Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
Fan-favorite Jeff Halpern, who captained the Washington Capitals during the 2005-06 season, was signed this offseason to a one-year deal for $825,000.
Last year Halpern logged the second-most shorthanded minutes (2:20) per-game among Montreal’s forwards and also finished second on the team in faceoff percentage (56.9%). His 11 goals and 26 points were his most since the lockout ended, and he is expected to center the fourth line and see time on the penalty kill.
“He got 26 points last year, which is more than we got out of that position last year,” General Manager George McPhee said when Washington signed Halpern in July. “We want players to be able to fulfill certain roles but also generate offense.”
At the risk of being sacrilegious I am here to say, please, keep your expectations low. Very low.
Remember back in October of 2010 when I cautioned fans the Caps could have trouble converting shots into goals? It was based on the metric PDO, which is the summation of a player’s on-ice shooting percentage and on-ice save percentage during 5v5.
What makes PDO predictive is twofold:
- It is typically unsustainable year to year.
- It regresses to a central value of 1000, both up and down.
When Halpern was on the ice at even strength last season, Montreal saw a shooting percentage of 10.12 percent and a save percentage of .930 for a PDO of 1031, good for 20th best among NHL forwards who played at least 40 games last season. Only about 40 NHLers have a PDO in excess of 1030 each year.
In 2008-09 the Boston Bruins had 5 players in the Top 10 for PDO, and then NONE in the Top 100 in 2009-10. The Caps had 6 of the Top 10 and 13 of the Top 15 in 2009-10 but ended up with only one in the Top 10 and only six in the Top 100 last season.
See where I am going with this?
It is unlikely that Halpern sees as much “puck luck” on the ice next season, especially with linemates like Jay Beagle, D.J. King, and Matt Hendricks. I’d bet on single-digit goals and assists from the Potomac, MD native as he helps fill the void left by Boyd Gordon.
“I’ve always kind of hoped to come back to Washington– and the fact that they called, I was ecstatic,” Halpern said at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
No matter what happens in 2011-12, fans are too.