Jeff Woywitka #6 of the New York Rangers and Jeff...

Jeff Woywitka #6 of the New York Rangers and Jeff Halpern #15 of the Washington Capitals battle for the puck against the boards during the first period at Verizon Center. (Dec. 28, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

Veteran center Jeff Halpern agreed to a one-year contract with the Rangers Tuesday as the team continued to fill in the gaps on their third and fourth lines via free agency.

Halpern, 36, who won 58.3 percent of his faceoffs, the fifth-highest percentage in the league last season, presumably will center a fourth line and be used on the penalty kill. The Potomac, Md., native, who played for the Capitals last season, will replace John Mitchell, who left for a two-year, $2.2-million contract with Colorado.

Halpern, who had four goals and 16 points in 69 games last season, will earn $700,000. He is the third free-agent forward, all 30 or older and with significant NHL experience, to sign this month, including Arron Asham, formerly with the Penguins, and Taylor Pyatt, who played for Phoenix last season. All three signed one-year deals.

Besides Mitchell, free agent Ruslan Fedotenko departed for Philadelphia and Brandon Prust accepted a four-year deal from Montreal.

In 861 regular-season games with the Capitals, Lightning, Stars, Kings and Canadiens, the 6-foot, 203-pound Halpern had 146 goals and 212 assists. He was captain of the Capitals during his first stint with the team in 2005 and played on the U.S. team in the IIHF World Championships, coached by John Tortorella, in 2008.

On the trade front, the standoff between the Rangers and Columbus on a package to acquire forward Rick Nash remains. But the Rangers are among numerous teams making a pitch to free agent forward Shane Doan, the 35-year-old Coyotes captain who is examining his options.

Doan, who has been with the franchise since it relocated from Winnipeg, prefers to stay in Arizona but is pondering a move if he and his agent sense that no progress is made in the potential sale of the team to investor Greg Jamison.

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Rangers, Madison Square

Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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