The Habs picked up a faceoff specialist on Saturday afternoon, claiming
centre Jeff Halpern off of waivers from the New York Rangers. This will be
the 36 year olds’ second stint with the organization after spending the 2010-11
season with the Canadiens. The veteran is a pending unrestricted free
agent after this season.
Halpern’s offensive stats have taken a nosedive since he left Montreal.
Last season (with Washington), he notched just four goals and twelve assists in
69 games while this season, he has recorded just a single assist despite playing
in all of New York’s contests, averaging 9:09 of ice time per game. In his
career, he has 146 goals and 213 assists in 891 career regular season games.
However, his faceoff abilities have continually remained strong over that
time, something that the Habs surely coveted as they sit 22nd in the league on
draws with a team percentage of 48.6%. Below are his career numbers at the dot.
One other area that Halpern should be able to help the team on is the penalty
kill. He has regularly taken a shift on the PK throughout his career
including this year where he has averaged just over two minutes per game while
shorthanded. The Habs rank 17th in the NHL with an 80.4% success rate on
the penalty kill.
This gives the Habs 46 contracts out of the
maximum of 50. The impact on the salary cap is also negligible as Halpern
is receiving a pro-rated salary of $700,000. The team has been well under
the cap this season and will still have ample room to bring in other players as
the deadline approaches. As the Habs were only carrying 22 players on the
active roster, no corresponding move was required for him to be added. He
will not play in Saturday’s contest in Buffalo but is expected to join the team