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Rangers sign Jeff Halpern for one year, $700K

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: Jeff Halpern #15 of the Washington Capitals reacts during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center on January 11, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Patrick McDermott

Renaud Lavoie reports that the New York Rangers signed veteran center Jeff Halpern to a one-year, $700K contract tonight.

The Rangers got a chance to see the 36-year-old forward during the team’s seven-game series against Halpern’s last team, the Washington Capitals. Halpern is most obviously connected to the Capitals franchise as his first stint with the team lasted six seasons. After that, he bounced around the NHL quite a bit before returning to D.C., where he was born.

It was a cool story that the Capitals brought back a “native” of the market, but Halpern is a depth guy rather than a big difference-maker so it’s not shocking that he didn’t stick.

The clearest way he’s likely to help New York is in the faceoff circle, where Halpern won a staggering 58.4 percent of his draws last season. The Rangers’ two most frequent faceoff takers (Brad Richards and Artem Anisimov) won 51.8 percent of their draws in 2011-12, but Halpern could make a subtle impact by relieving Derek Stepan (44.5 percent) and Artem Anisimov (46.7) of their duties.

Halpern was once a solid point producer, but he’s pretty far removed from his 40+ point days so his greatest value likely comes in faceoffs, two-way play and perhaps his veteran presence.