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Florida Panthers Add Reto Berra From Avalanche

The Florida Panthers have a new backup goaltender behind veteran Roberto Luongo after acquiring Swiss stopper Reto Berra from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Rocco Grimaldi on Thursday.

Berra will replace Al Montoya, who is expected to exit Florida as an unrestricted free agent next week after going 12-7-3 with a .919 save percentage in 22 starts for the Panthers last season. Berra, 29, had a .922 save percentage last season but only played 14 games with the Avalanche because of injury and lost the backup job to Calvin Pickard as a result, finishing the season in the American Hockey League.

With Pickard and No.1 Semyon Varlamov back next season in Colorado, there was no room for Berra, who first arrived in Colorado in the spring of 2014 in a deal for a second round pick with the Calgary Flames.

Reto Berra made strides in Colorado and appeared ready for regular NHL duty before getting hurt last season (Photo by Scott Slingsby/InGoal Magazine)

Reto Berra made strides in Colorado and appeared ready for regular NHL duty before getting hurt last season. (Photo by Scott Slingsby/InGoal Magazine)

Berra, who joins Mike McKenna as an NHL-capable goalie on the Panthers depth chart, gives Florida a good stopgap between Luongo and top prospect Samuel Montembeault, who signed his entry-level deal with the club this spring. Berra, who would have required waivers to go back to the AHL next season, injured himself playing soccer in the bowels of the arena during this past season, which gives limited data for Panthers fans to draw from when considering the value of their newest asset. But Avalanche goaltending coach Francois Allaire told InGoal Magazine late last season that Berra was NHL ready.

“We were just at the point to find the real Reto Berra, but he got injured,” Allaire said. “Reto is a good athlete … he’s a guy that can play in the NHL now. He was a lot of diving (before) and last year he needed a year to settle down, work on the basics, work on the fundamentals of his game and this year he came back, he was really, really good. It’s too bad he got injured but at least we know now he can play and play at a really, really good level.”

If that holds true in Florida, Berra provides added depth to help Luongo, who turns 38 at the end of next season.  It takes pressure off Montembeault to rush into an heir apparent role and could alleviate some of the responsibility Luongo has seen placed on his shoulders since arriving back in Florida.

All in all, this deal is a win for Florida, and a good use by the Avalanche of their goaltending depth to bring in a new asset for their forward depth chart rather than risk losing Berra for nothing next season.

About The Author

Cat Silverman

Catherine is the first American in a long line of Canadians, making her the black sheep before she even decided she wasn't going to be a Leafs fan. Writer for Today's Slapshot, InGoal Magazine, and Coyotes.NHL.com, coach in the Arizona Coyotes Department of Hockey Development. Goalies are not voodoo.