|Back when we had robo cop Alex, we had captain Halpy. He's baaaack.|
Overall, Halpern should be a perfect fit for the Capitals in terms of defensive play, particularly on the penalty kill, and fans should not worry about a downgrade in shorthanded play now that Gordon is gone. Last season on the Canadiens, Halpern averaged 2:20 of shorthanded ice time per game, which was second on the Habs and would have led Washington. This infusion of extra shorthanded ice time, six seconds more per game than Gordon, gives the Caps a reliable, if not very good, shorthanded body to add to their penalty kill unit. Factor in Halpern's 53 blocked shots, which led Montreal forwards and would have been third on Washington, and you may even be getting an upgrade from Gordon.
Another area that Boyd Gordon was dominant in was on the draw, where he was first on the team and fourth in the league in overall faceoff winning percentage last season at 58.0%. But Halpern was not far behind at 56.9%; and that number would have led the Caps and was still eighth overall in the league. Going back to my point above about Halpern being a good penalty killer, his shorthanded faceoff winning percentage was actually higher at 60.3% than Gordon's was at 58.9%. The difference isn't that pronounced, but it's still there, and it should serve as evidence, again, the Washington may have upgraded this roster role during the offseason.
Another area that the Caps can experience some slight improvement over Gordon with Halpern is offense. Halpern had 11 goals and 26 points last year for Montreal, but he's not going to do that again because he played on the third and second lines with the Habs, something he won't do regularly here, and because he was very lucky last season. Nevertheless, he has more offensive potential than Gordon, who didn't total 26 points in the last two seasons combined. Now Washington has two guys who can score a little bit in Matt Hendricks and Halpern on the final unit, and that is definitely a good thing.
All in all, when you factor everything, I think that this signing can be classified as a massive win for the Caps and their fans. George McPhee was able to add basically the same, if not a slightly better, skill set in Halpern over Gordon while spending $500,000 less. Add in the fact that Halpern is a former captain and will lead in the locker room, and I think that this may be the most underrated move McPhee has made all summer. Then again, time will tell, as is the case will all of his moves. As McPhee himself has said several times, the season isn't played on paper.