Jeff Halpern felt at the end of the playoffs he had something left in the tank. In replacing Jay Beagle in the Washington Capitals’ lineup he was able to prove a little bit of what he thought he could bring.
“It obviously wasn’t the finish of a season that I personally would have liked,” he said in May. “The team was doing well, but as far as for my own personal career and future, you hope that there’s a lot of other opinions out there.”
While the Caps knew he wasn’t coming back, Halpern got that other opinion from the New York Rangers, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $700,000. It’s a guaranteed contract that he was never assured of until this week.
In his second tour with the Caps, Halpern had four goals and 12 assists playing mostly a fourth-line role. Sent to the press box with regularity under coach Dale Hunter in the final couple of months, he didn’t know exactly how to handle it.
“I was unhappy and I wouldn’t expect anyone not in the lineup to be happy about that. At times you try to come to the rink, you try to have a smile on your face and support the guys as much as you can,” he said. “I try to do that as best as I could. At the same times, especially the times I wasn’t playing down the stretch and in the playoffs, and those are the most exciting times to be playing hockey. Internally it was hard. I hope that I put on a good face. I hope that I did as much as I could to support the team.”
Halpern should slide into a fourth-line center role with penalty-killing and faceoff duties with the Rangers, who were beaten by the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference finals. Even though his offensive potency dropped off, he still finished fifth in the NHL in faeceoffs at 58.3 percent.
Larry Duvall of CSN Washington was first to report the deal. Renaud Lavoie of RDS first reported the terms.