The offseason is full of rumors and potential changes to the team, there's the free agent situations and the draft and the trades. One of these rumors that surfaced recently was the fact that Kirk Muller, the assistant coach of the Montreal Canadiens will be leaving the team as his contract has come to an end and will join the Dallas Stars as their head-coach. The other one concerns center Jeff Halpern. It seems that Montreal's general manager Pierre Gauthier has passed the word to Halpern that he will not be back in Montreal.
Jeff Halpern, 34, signed a one year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on September 7th 2010. The 5'11, 198 lbs Center was a welcome addition to the team, especially after Glenn Metropolit and Dominic Moore were not signed by the organization. And what a bargain he was. For a mere $600K per year, Montreal managed to land a player who brought along strong work ethic and competitiveness. He played 72 games with the Canadiens this season and accumulated 11 goals, 15 assists for a total of 26 points while playing very few minutes every day. In addition, Halpern also ended the regular season with a positive +6 record, one short-handed goal, 62 shots on goal for a 17.7 Shot percentage! If you are wondering, that's four more goals than Scott Gomez.
His usefulness in the faceoff circle became extremely apparent during the playoffs. When the rest of the Habs' centermen were struggling and were unable to win any faceoffs against the Bruins, Halpern stepped in following an injury and managed to keep a 73.2% Faceoff win percentage, overshadowing the rest of the Montreal centers.
By letting Halpern go, unless replaced, Montreal will be showing confidence in Desharnais and Eller as the main line3/4 centermen. Look for Eller to have his own line and be even promoted to line 2 if Gomez does not work out in the 2011-2012 season. Of course, the rumors are not substantiated by the conventional media yet and it may just be that the Habs haven't really let go of Halpern. Although it doesn't look promising for the moment, it wouldn't be surprising to see his services being retained again for the next season, at a bargain price.