The Florida Panthers continue to be the team making waves early in the offseason. They’ve made another trade, sending diminutive center Rocco Grimaldi to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for goaltender Reto Berra.
This comes just days after incoming general manager Tom Rowe said that last season’s backup, Al Montoya, would be headed to free agency. Current starter Roberto Luongo is now 37 and the team made need a solid backup plan in place. He was great last season, but fewer games may be in order down the line.
The 29-year-old Berra has one year remaining on his deal, which pays him $1.45 million this coming season. He’ll be a UFA at the end of that deal, so the Panthers are acquiring one year of Berra while sending a 23-year-old to Colorado, who will be an RFA at the end of his current deal.
Since coming to Colorado three seasons back, Berra has struggled to get consistent playing time. Last season he played just 14 contests with two shutouts and a .922 all-situation save percentage. Over the last three seasons he has an adjusted even-strength save percentage of .920. Though he did have the best five-on-five save percentage of goaltenders who played at least 550 minutes last season.
Grimaldi has been touted frequently for his skill despite standing just 5-foot-6. Last season was the second year in which he played NHL games, grabbing 20, through which he posted three goals and five points. In part, this deal is possible because Colorado can turn to Calvin Pickard, who has been the heir apparent to Semyon Varlamov for the last couple of seasons.
Helping out on the other end was that Grimaldi hasn’t found a consistent home in the Florida lineup, and it projected to only be more difficult this coming season with the possibility of prospects like Lawson Crouse, Quinton Howden and Jayce Hawryluk overtaking him on the depth chart.