Reto Berra: Colorado Avalanche Player Profile


The Colorado Avalanche traded a second round draft pick to the Calgary Flames for goalie Reto Berra last season and almost immediately signed him to a three-year contract extension worth $4.35 million. He struggled early with the team, and many Avalanche fans wrote him off. However, Berra is a capable back up with a lot of international experience. Berra played in 19 games for the Avalanche this season, recording a decent .918 save percentage.

Reto Berra, the Swiss Years

The 28-year-old Reto Berra is from Bülach, Switzerland, a German-speaking town near the capital of Zurich. According to a Calgary Flames article by Bryce Forbes, Berra was a “rambunctious toddler.” As such, Berra’s mother signed him up for a sport:

"“No one in my family was playing hockey, but my mother decided lets go throw him on the ice and he can do everything he was doing at home. I was a child that was moving a lot at home.”"

Berra fell in love with hockey, even though it wasn’t the most popular sport in Switzerland. He says he was always on the ice, whether with his teams or with his friends. He chose to go full-time with tending goal at the age of 11.

Reto Berra played youth hockey with EHC Bülach. Berra played his first professional game in the 2003-04 season with the GCK Lions, a B-league team in Switzerland. By the 2005-06 season, he had transitioned to the A-league ZSC Lions before moving to the HC Davos.

Players for HC Davos have a strong connection to the national team, and Berra is no exception. He has loads of experience playing for the Swiss national team:

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Reto Berra Drafted

Reto Berra’s strong international play caught the St. Louis Blues’ attention. The Blues selected Berra in the 2006 NHL Draft, choosing him in the fourth round, 106th overall. However, Berra only participated in a few St. Louis Blues summer camps.

Berra said of being drafted:

"“I was really honored to be drafted, especially as a Swiss guy and there was not a lot of guys before me who were drafted before me, so I was really happy.”"

Berra didn’t even play for the Blues’ AHL affiliate. Instead he went the way of many European players, playing for the home professional teams. He shifted from the HC Davos to the EHC Biel in 2009. (Biel, incidentally, is a bi-lingual city, German and French.)

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Reto Berra became EHC Biel’s starting goal tender, recording the best years of his Swiss professional career. He played 179 games over four years, earning a .904 save percentage.

After the 2011-12 season Berra was awarded the Swiss A League Goalie of the Year.

Reto Berra in the NHL

With Berra still playing hockey in the Swiss professional league, he got new that he was no longer with the St. Louis Blues. In fact, he’d been traded along with Mark Cundari and a first round draft pick to the Calgary Flames for Jay Bouwmeester.

Berra had just announced that he was coming to play in the NHL:

"“I think the last two or three years, I played really, really well in Switzerland, also with the national team so now I think I can take the next step.”"

Berra signed with the Flames on July 5, 2013. Though 26 at the time, he was officially a rookie.

Berra played 29 games with the Calgary Flames (and nine with their AHL-affiliate Abbotsford Heat). In those 29 games, he recorded a .897 save percentage. Then, on March 5, 2014, Berra got to find out about a great NHL tradition — trade deadline day. Up and last minute, he got traded to the Colorado Avalanche.

At the time, Berra was good-natured about that bizarre tradition:

"“It’s funny how fast it goes over here. My first time I’ve seen all that, like how the trades go… I don’t know what to say, it’s special how fast it goes over here.”"

In the same interview by the Calgary press, Berra talked about his excitement in coming to Colorado.

"“I’m really excited to go to Colorado. It’s probably a great city and great hockey town, too [like Calgary]. And a really famous coach, when I was a child, he was probably the biggest.”"

Berra was nervous coming over to the Avalanche, and he didn’t have a great start. However, in the 2014-15 season, he showed a lot more confidence — and head coach Patrick Roy started showing some more confidence in him.

Berra had some big games for the Avs. He was in net for Colorado’s first win, game 3 against the Boston Bruins. Berra also went in for Varlamov a few times and shut down the opposing team. Finally, Berra recorded his first NHL shutout in the game against the Winnipeg Jets, the penultimate game of the season. (Read more)

Berra spent five games with the Lake Erie Monsters. He went 3-1-1. And in one of those wins, he even scored a goal:

Reto Berra still has two more seasons on his contract extension. He has shown a lot of improvement, but coach Roy has said that in the next training camp Berra and Calvin Pickard are going to battle for the #2 goalie position in Colorado.

It would be good to see Berra as the back up for one more season. He’s worked so hard and shown so much improvement — I think he would be good in the #2 position.

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Next: 5 Frustrations from 2014-15 Avalanche Season

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