It turns out that re-signing Carey Price wasn’t the last thing on GM Pierre
Gauthier’s to-do list this offseason as today, he inked veteran centreman Jeff
Halpern to 1 year contract. Financial terms of the deal have not yet been
officially released but reports suggest the 34 year old will earn $600,000,
just above the NHL minimum.
The Habs have long been linked to Halpern, dating back to 2006 when Halpern
last was a UFA. Reports then suggested former GM Bob Gainey offered a similar 4 year
deal to the one he eventually signed with the Dallas Stars (at $2 milion per
season). The veteran pivot split last season between Tampa Bay and Los
Angeles playing 71 regular season games picking up 19 points (9-10-19) but was
held pointless in 6 postseason contests with the Kings.
In 2008, Halpern was one of the forwards sent to Tampa Bay in the deal that
saw then-perennial All-Star Brad Richards move to Dallas. He joined the
Kings last season in return for up and coming forward Ted Purcell and a
mid-round draft pick. Also in 2008, he captained Team USA in the World
Championships and has played internationally for Team USA 6 times (5 World
Championships as well as the 2004 World Cup of Hockey).
Signed as an undrafted free agent back in 1999 after playing out his
collegiate career at Princeton, the 6’0, 203 lb C has played in a total of 720
NHL games, scoring 131 goals and 185 assists while amassing a career -32 rating
(most of which coming from the last 2 years where he’s a combined -27).
He’s also played in 30 playoff games, picking up 6 goals and 6 assists.
His strength comes at the faceoff dot where he is consistently over 50%.
His career percentages are below:
Halpern becomes the 48th player under contract out of the limit of 50
(including any slide rule-eligible players). If the financial report is
correct, the Habs will be just under $1 million below the salary cap heading into
training camp (assuming no injury callups such as Mathieu Carle or Alex Picard
are required). Note that being under by that amount means that if D
Andrei Markov misses significant time with his knee injury, the Habs will not
be eligible for LTIR relief as the team would remain below the cap with his