by Patrick Hoffman on 09/20/12 at 08:00 AM ET
For several seasons, the New York Rangers had a centerman who could block shots, make smart defensive plays in his own zone, win face-offs and kill penalties.
As knowledgeable Blueshirts' fans, you probably remember this player as Blair Betts. Betts was a solid Ranger for four seasons, mainly under former head coach Tom Renney.
Believe it or not, the Rangers' may have found a Betts' look-a-like in center Jeff Halpern. Halpern signed a 1-year-deal with the team in the off-season after spending last season with the Washington Capitals.
Halpern, now likely considered a depth player, played 69 games last season and posted 16 points (4 goals and 12 assists). Those numbers may not be great but he will bring some value to the team whenever the league decides to drop the puck.
For starters, Halpern can contribute offensively. Two seasons ago, Halpern tallied 26 points (11 goals and 15 assists) in 72 games with the Montreal Canadiens. He goes hard to the net and is not afraid to dig pucks out of the corner to create scoring.
Halpern can also kill penalties, which is extremely beneficial if you are playing under head coach John Tortorella. He is a solid defensive forward who knows how to be responsible in his own zone.
Lastly, Halpern gives the Rangers depth. Going into the upcoming season, the Blueshirts now have four good centers in Brad Richards, Derek tepan, Brian Boyle and Halpern, giving Tortorella a good chance to be able to roll all four lines in each game.
Hopefully, there will be a season so that Rangers' fans can see that Halpern was a valuable signing for the team this off-season.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.