Washington Capitals Top Ten Centers: #10
Starting off our list is Jeff Halpern. Halpern was not only a solid center for the Washington Capitals. He also hails from the nation’s capital.
After signing with Washington in March 1999, Jeff spent the remainder of the season in the AHL with Portland; he scored two goals and had one assist in six games. In 1999-2000, Halpern had a sensational rookie season with the Washington Capitals. Jeff played center in 79 games and scored 18 goals, had 11 assists, and 39 penalty minutes. In five playoff games, Halpern had two goals and one assist. Among rookies during the regular season, Halpern ranked No. 1 in shooting percentage (16.7%), No. 2 in short-handed goals (four), No. 1 in plus/ minus (+21), and No. 6 in goals scored.
Halpern improved during the 2000-01 season and surpassed his previous year’s scoring totals. Jeff played in 80 games, scored 21 goals (one short-handed and five game-winning), with 21 assists (six power play assists) for 42 total points; he also had 60 penalty minutes and +13 plus/minus rating. His 19.1 shooting percentage (21-110) was among the highest in the league. The Capitals finished in first place in the Southeast Division with a record of 41-27-10 (96 points).
He signed a two-year contract with Washington during training camp and was considered a key player entering the 2001-02 season. Although the Caps had added superstar Jaromir Jagr to its roster, they struggled throughout the year and finished in second place in their division with a record of 36-33-11 (85 points). Unfortunately, Halpern tore his anterior cruciate ligament on January 16 in a game against the Montreal Canadiens and had season-ending surgery. Prior to his injury, Halpern, who had gained a reputation as a defensive center in his first two NHL seasons, played in 48 games and was eighth on the team with 19 points (5 goals and 14 assists).
During the 2002-03 season, Halpern appeared in all 82 regular season games as center of the Capitals’ checking line, one of the best defensive lines in the league. Washington finished the season in second place in the Southeast Division with a record of 39-29-8-6 (92 points). Halpern scored 13 goals and 21 assists; he was eighth on the team with 34 total points. The No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Caps played the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. After winning the first two games of the series, the Caps lost the next four, including a triple-overtime thriller in Game 6. He registered one assist in the series, but took the most face-offs on Washington. – Jewish Virtual Library
Halpern played in 507 games for the Washington Capitals. Here’s how he compares to the other centers who qualified:
- 507 games played (sixth out of 23)
- 91 goals (11th out of 23)
- 139 assists (13th out of 23)
- 230 points (13th out of 23)
- +1 plus-minus rating (10th out of 23)
Jeff Halpern didn’t get the flashy stats because he was a checking line center. His job? Hound the other team’s best line. Halpern was a master of winning face-offs and was always a pain in the butt to play against. To sum it up, he was a great checking line center. And he’s an even greater person.