WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Jeff Halpern #15 of the Washington Capitals skates with the puck against the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center on October 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
When Jeff Halpern signed a one-year deal with the New York Rangers, a lot of fans wondered where, or how he would fit into the current Rangers system. A lot of people questioned him, at the age of 36, as to why the team was adding older players, instead of leaving it up to the kids. There were a lot of things that were often overlooked about Jeff Halpern, and in the end, this was a great move the by Rangers.
One glaring attribute Halpern possesses is his elite faceoff skills. In 69 games with the Washington Capitals last season, Halpern was able to compile a faceoff percentage of 58.3%, which was good for fifth in the league. This was a glaring issue during the playoffs for the Rangers, as the bottom lines weren't able to win the important draws late in games, which wound up costing them at certain times.
Like Brad Richards, and ex-Ranger Ruslan Fedotenko, Halpern has also played for John Tortorella, with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He knows what Torts expects of his players, and Halpern has been playing Torts style of hockey his entire career. As we've seen from Richards, past experience with Tortorella can pay off in the long run.
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Halpern also has the ability to kill penalties, which was a gaping hole the Rangers left open after Brandon Prust departed for the Montreal Canadiens. Tortorella and Halpern have briefly discussed the role in which he will play with the Rangers, and it will be slotting into the fourth-line as a faceoff and penalty killing specialist.
Halpern is excited about his role with the Rangers, and had nothing but great things to say about the current team.
"I’m happy to get an opportunity to go back to work and with a good organization and a good coach and a good team. I love the team, I love the style of play as far as being a really aggressive forechecking team. It’s a style I’ve always enjoyed playing."
"I enjoyed playing it when I played for Torts in Tampa. Over the last few years, I’ve moved between center to wing on the third or fourth line. I try to tilt the ice as much as possible. Personally, I want to contribute a little more offensively but just tilt the ice."
Aside from his age, Halpern can really help the Rangers this season, and fills an important hole in the bottom-six. While the Rangers are still on the hunt for a goal scorer, their depth moves this offseason have been looking pretty solid.