As the 2011-12 season has come to a close, the time has come to evaluate what it meant for the Capitals, both as a team and as individuals. As such, as the summer progresses, I will be writing a report card, or individual evaluation, for each player who played in 9 (~10%) of the team’s games, or 4 playoff games. Next up is center Jeff Halpern, who played his first season in seven years but his fifth overall with the Capitals on this campaign.
Season Summary: Halpern played in 69 games this year for the Capitals, tallying four goals, 12 assists, a -1 rating, and 24 penalty minutes. His corsi rating was -0.65, the fifth best on the team among forwards at even strength, and he did it against the fourth toughest competition among Washington attackers. Most importantly for Halpern, however, he won faceoffs at a 58.4% clip, which led the team by a significant margin and was 7th in the NHL among players that took 300 or more draws. He played pretty much every night until the late stages of the year, at which he point was clearly frustrated with his performance and the way he was being deployed. 69 games isn’t shabby, but for a guy like Halpern, he expected more, and he said so in his end of year media availability. Grade: B-
Role Play: Halpern was brought on to this team to do exactly what he did – provide a stable, reliable defensive player in the bottom six that can win faceoffs, kill penalties, and provide a little bit of offensive pop. Halpern did all of those things very well, and, as far as we know, was steady in the locker room the way you would expect a former captain to be steady in the locker room. When McPhee signed him, he knew exactly what he was getting, and Halpern was just that. He had a right to be frustrated with his playing time down the stretch, without a doubt. Grade: B+
Playoffs: Halpern only played in two playoff games, both against the Rangers; he was only inserted into the postseason lineup because of an injury to Jay Beagle and I was disappointed to see him not get ice time at the expense of Keith Aucoin. In those two playoff games, Halpern was held pointless with a -1 rating and four penalty minutes, so he didn’t exactly play great; to be fair, those two games were his first game action in over six weeks at that point. Grade: C-
Future Potential: An unrestricted free agent, Halpern has stated that he wants to continue playing at age 36. As he proved this year, Halpern can still be a very valuable fourth line player for a competitive team because he can play tough minutes and come through on both sides of the puck, as well as in the faceoff circle. There is no way that he is done as an NHL player, and I would really like to see him back in DC next year at the right price (750-800k). Grade: B-
The next report card will feature center Mathieu Perreault.
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