Colorado Avalanche: Reacting to the Reto Berra Trade

Dec 1, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Reto Berra (20) looks for the puck during the third period at Prudential Center. The Avalanche defeated the Devils 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Reto Berra (20) looks for the puck during the third period at Prudential Center. The Avalanche defeated the Devils 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche traded big backup goalie Reto Berra for diminutive Florida Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi.

Colorado Avalache GM Joe Sakic does like his draft-time trades. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, or the fact that so many fellow GMs are mulling around the same hotels and restaurants looking for ways to improve their team within the cap floor or ceiling.

Sakic is getting an early start this year. The news just came across the wire — a.k.a., Twitter — that the Colorado Avalanche made the following trade:

So, it appears Joe Sakic had lunch with Panthers GM Tom Rowe.

In any case, my first reaction to the trade was, “Aww, and I liked Reto Berra.” I actually did — I liked his style from his Calgary Flames and Team Switzerland days.

What’s more, I’ve been looking at the Colorado Avalanche as having great goalie depth. To my mind, Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard are fighting it out for the starting spot, and Reto Berra would be their backup or an NHL call-up when Varlamov’s groin goes wonky again.

Now it looks as though we have Varlamov staying at the #1 goalie position with Pickard perhaps challenging him for it. And when Varly’s groin goes wonky again, we have… Spencer Martin backing up Pickard? Or the Avalanche might pick up a cheap backup in free agency.

Before we move forward to who the Colorado Avalanche acquired in the trade, let’s take a look at my two favorite Reto Berra memories.

The first actually happened with the Lake Erie Monsters — Reto Berra scored a goal:

I like this one even better, when he checked Sergei Plotnikov then just chilled in net while a scrum ensued behind him:

I also loved his shutout at the end of the 2014-15 season followed by a shutout at the beginning of the 2015-16 season. Those felt good.

More About Reto Berra:

Ok, but now we have Rocco Grimaldi, whose name suggests he’s a 20s-era gangster from New York. Let’s check him out.

Rocco Grimaldi

colorado avalanche
Sep 29, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Florida Panthers center Rocco Grimaldi (23) during the game against the Dallas Stars during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Panthers 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

Height: 5’6″

Weight: 180

Age: 23

Contract: Entry-level with one year left, cap hit of $925,000

So, the Colorado Avalanche are going to save half a million dollars in cap space, but, as an Avs fan tweeted, they lost almost a foot of hockey player. (Big Berra is 6-foot-4.)

Grimaldi is a small guy, just 5-foot-6. We’re talking, Tyson Barrie is going to tower over this guy. However, Little Grimmy is a compact hockey player full of grit. He’s like a bulldog in ice skates.

Here’s his first NHL goal:

I’m guessing what attracted the Colorado Avalanche to this diminutive player — the current regime favors players 6-foot and up — is his compete level. He’s also a two-way player with versatility — he can play either wing or center.

Grimaldi was the Florida Panthers’ 33rd-overall pick in 2011. He’s had a couple dalliances in the NHL — seven games in 2014-15 and 20 games in 2015-16. He has six points in those 27 games (3 goals, 3 assists). At the AHL level he’s been a better producer — 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 52 games last season.

The Colorado Avalanche are probably going to give Grimaldi a chance to make the team out of training camp. However, he’ll probably spend time next year with the San Antonio Rampage.

Basically, the Colorado Avalanche traded for Reto Berra two years ago for some goalie depth. They were a little quick off the mark in signing him to an extension — something Sakic did in the early days, but he’s shied away from that practice now.

Once the Avalanche got more clarity on their goalie situation, they saw it was time to unload Berra. He spent a significant portion of last season with the Rampage, but his wasn’t a two-way contract, so the team had to bury some of his salary. Colorado also put him on waivers twice last year, so the writing was pretty clear on the wall.

Next: Sakic on Free Agency and the Draft

Well, best of luck to Reto Berra — hopefully he gets a big re-start in Florida.

As for our new acquisition, welcome to Avs Nation. We shall call you Little Grimmy.