Cruncher of the month: Death, taxes, Mike Halmo

Off-season free agent pickup Mike Halmo has been an offensive juggernaut of late, taking over the team lead in goals.

Steve Yzerman and Julien Brisebois did an outstanding job during the summer of 2016 to stock their farm system with proven AHL scoring depth. One of those acquisitions  came in the form of 25 year old veteran winger Mike Halmo.

Undrafted out of the OHL where he spent four seasons with the Owen Sound Attack, Halmo got his first taste of professional hockey during the 2011-2012 season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He would go on to skate with the team for the better part of five seasons, where he put up solid offensive numbers and made a name for himself throughout the league. Last season he produced what is statistically his best pro campaign to date, scoring 22 goals to go along with 19 helpers for a season total of 41 points.

His consistent hard work and consummate professionalism earned him a fairly lengthy 20-game stint with the New York Islanders during the 2013-2014 season. In that time, Halmo managed to net his first ever NHL goal on April 1, 2014 against the Florida Panthers.

This season with the Syracuse Crunch, Halmo got off to a rather pedestrian start, causing some to worry that the same veteran curse that had struck the likes of Jerome Samson and Jon DiSalvatore in the past, had struck Halmo.

Those early critics, myself included, have been promptly quieted by an onslaught of scoring, physical play, and defensive prowess.

For a guy that is listed at 5-foot-11, Halmo sure knows how to lower the “boom” on his opponents. He has consistently been one of the most physical players to pull the  Crunch sweater over his head this year. Constantly badgering opposing defenders on the forecheck and even dropping the mitts on occasion, Halmo’s fiery style of a play has been a welcomed surprise.

With the puck on his stick, Halmo has been equally impressive having taken over the team lead for goals at 12. Currently, the mustachioed Halmo is riding a goal-per-game streak that dates back four games to a New Years Eve match-up with the St. John’s IceCaps. In total, number 28 has found the net 12 times to go along with five helpers, for 19 points.

It’s extremely difficult to nail down exactly what kind of player Halmo is because of his constant versatility. He has the shot of an elite AHL sniper, the net-front presence of a power-forward, and the physicality of a third or fourth line grinder. All of those components together make up an excellent hockey player that is banging on the doorstep of his first Tampa Bay Lightning recall.

Mike Halmo is everything you could ever want out of an AHL veteran. He’s a thrill to watch compete night in and night out at the War Memorial, but it’s his wacky personality that has quickly launched him to the status of Crunch fan favorite. His almost creepy demeanor in one of Fully Focused Media’s newer lip synch videos is hysterical and should not be overlooked by anyone.

Lightning fans should take notice of Mike Halmo because they will likely be hearing from him very soon.