CALGARY, AB -- When general manager Jay Feaster was entering into negotiations with the St. Louis Blues, he immediately knew of one prospect he wanted in return for defenceman Jay Bouwmeester.
"We recognize that we're going to have to face life after Miikka Kiprusoff." - Flames general manager Jay Feaster
His name may not be widely known in North American hockey circles but the Flames have heard a lot about him from their European scouts in recent years. The team's scouting staff have been split on who was the best goaltender outside of the National Hockey League, Berra or Karri Ramo. Now, the team has both thanks to Bouwmeester trade on Monday evening.
"We made a mental note when we got the rights to Karri Ramo, if we ever had the opportunity to pick up Reto Berra's rights, we would do it," Feaster explained. "He happens to be represented by the same agent that represents Sven Baertschi and he's playing in Switzerland so Bob (Hartley) was familiar with him as well.
"We've had our eye on him for well over a year now."
The 26 year-old has been an impact player in Switzerland since becoming a starting netminder in the Swiss National League A (NLA). Over the last four seasons, he has played no less than 38 games each year with Biel. In the past two seasons, he has played 49 games with a 2.44 GAA in 2011-12 and a 3.01 GAA in 2012-13.
The Bülach, SUI product started his career with the ZSC Lions in the Elite Jr. A league before moving on to play for the GCK Lions, HC Davos, SC Langnau and EV Zug. He has represented his country on multiple occasions in the U18 World Junior Championships, U20 World Junior Champions and the World Cup.
Adding Berra into the mix gives the another goaltender to a prospect pool loaded with upside. At the moment, the Flames have Leland Irving, Danny Taylor, Joni Ortio, Laurent Brossoit and Jon Gillies in their system.
"We recognize that we're going to have to face life after Miikka Kiprusoff," Feaster said. "To be in a situation where we have those two guys, Berra and Ramo, and then you have the young guys coming in the next wave, we feel really good about the depth we have at that position."