The Warmup - What does Jeff Halpern bring to the table?
Yesterday the Canadiens claimed Jeff Halpern off of waivers, but what does he bring to the team?
Yesterday I quickly tossed a few things out on Jeff Halpern, but I didn't get a chance to go too in depth.
Looking at Halpern's 10 game rolling averages for Fenwick and zone starts in comparison to the Rangers' team average, it looks like the Canadiens got a really underrated player for free.
The timing of the Halpern pickup couldn't be better with Ryan White now injured, but I've also recently looked at how White has performed this year in the role that Halpern will be taking over.
Using the same process, we can compare Halpern's performance to White's:
Although White had a good stretch there in a very tough role, it seemed like he began to falter on possession and Therrien began to ease up on him a little bit. White is by no means having a bad season, heck I rated him an 8/10 on Friday, but Halpern is a significantly better player, even at 36.
Halpern also replaces White as a right handed option in the faceoff circle, but unlike White, Halpern is a veteran presence who the coaching staff is likely to trust in key situations, likely taking faceoffs in the dying minutes of games with Tomas Plekanec on his wing in case he gets booted.
Halpern is a proven faceoff performer, who's 56.7% success rate this season would put him at the top of the stat page for the Habs. Faceoffs aren't as important as a lot of broadcasters like to think, they're just one kind of puck battle that's actually measured, but improving on them isn't a bad thing.
One area where White has been better than Halpern this year is shot production, where he gets about 1.2 more shots every 60 minutes at even strength, but I have to think that part of this is due to White getting mildly easier minutes, and because Colby Armstrong and Travis Moen are better players than Darrell Powe and Aaron Asham.
When looking at the last few years of Halpern's career, there's every indication that he's still a phenomenal defensive player.
Adding Halpern isn't going to be a gamebreaking move, but it's the kind of underrated move that can make the small differences in a playoff series that lead to wins instead of losses.