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With NHL Free Agency just five days away, NoVa Caps is looking back at the five best free agent signings in the history of the Capitals in the five days leading up to July 1.
No. 5 – Jeff Halpern
A hometown kid (he hails from Potomac, Maryland), Jeff Halpern was signed as a free agent by the Capitals in 1999 after going undrafted in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
In his first season with the Caps (1999-2000), Halpern showed promise by putting up 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists) in 80 games played. Over the next five seasons, Halpern continued to be a consistent offensive presence for the Caps, including three seasons of 40 or more points. Following a 44-point season in 2005-06 (a season in which he was named team captain), Halpern left D.C. to sign a four-year contract with the Dallas Stars. In his first tour of duty in a Capitals sweater, he recorded 87 goals and 127 assists for 214 points in 438 games. Fun fact: Halpern assisted on Alex Ovechkin’s first ever NHL goal.
Once he left Washington, Halpern never found his scoring touch, failing to record more than 30 points during stops in Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Los Angeles before returning to the Caps in the summer of 2011. In his second stint in D.C., Halpern (then 35-years old) was no longer used as a Top-Six forward, playing primarily on the fourth-line. In 69 games played for the Caps, he put up just four goals and 12 assists for 16 points. The Caps opted not to re-sign him. In 507 career games played in D.C., Halpern recorded 230 points (91 goals, 139 assists).
Halpern is one of the team’s best free agent signings because he turned out to be a fairly productive player and went from an undrafted nobody to a long-tenured member of the team and a key component of their core.
By Michael Fleetwood