The NHL free agent frenzy started at noon today and it didn't take too long for the Washington Capitals to make a mark, signing veteran center, and Potomac, MD native, Jeff Halpern to a one-year deal, reported to be worth $825,000, according to TSN.
Halpern, who started his career with the Caps, will center the fourth line and be used as a faceoff specialist, much in the same role that UFA Boyd Gordon has filled the last several seasons. Moments after the news of Halpern joining the Capitals, it was reported that Gordon signed a free agent contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. Gordon was the current longest-tenured Capital until today.
Halpern went 11-15-26, +6 with Montreal last season, and finished the year with a faceoff percentage of 56.9%.
Here's the press release from the Caps:
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have signed free agent center Jeff Halpern to a one-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Halpern, 35, played 438 games for the Capitals from 1999-2006 and captained the team during the 2005-06 season. The 5’11”, 198-pound center has recorded 214 points (87 goals, 127 assists) in his career with Washington, including a career-high 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) during the 2003-04 season. In 17 playoff games with the Capitals, Halpern has tallied four goals and five assists.
The Potomac, Maryland, native collected 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 72 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season. He logged the second-most shorthanded minutes (2:20) per-game amongst Canadiens forwards and helped lead the team’s penalty kill unit which ranked seventh in the NHL. Halpern also finished second on the team in faceoff percentage (56.9%) and registered one goal in four playoff games.
Halpern has collected 342 points (142 goals, 200 assists) in 792 career NHL games with Washington, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and Montreal. In 34 career postseason playoff games, Halpern has recorded seven goals and six assists.
Halpern first joined the Capitals as an undrafted free agent on March 29, 1999, and made the NHL club as a rookie in 1999-2000.. He has represented the United States in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and five World Championships (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008). While in Washington, Halpern was an active member of the community, helping launch Halpern’s Hometown Heroes to benefit local charities.
Halpern played youth hockey for the Little Capitals and former captains Rod Langway and Dale Hunter were among his favorite players. He played junior hockey in Canada and prep school hockey in New Hampshire before enrolling at Princeton University in 1995-96. One of only four players to be named Princeton’s MVP three times, Halpern was the team captain as a senior. He finished his college career ranking first all-time at Princeton in games played (132), third in career points (141) and assists (81) and tied for fifth in career goals (60).