Introducing Mark Cundari and Reto Berra – UPDATE

Blues vs Lightning-7442.jpg

pic via Sarah Connors

Calgary added two more prospects with the Jay Bouwmeester trade yesterday. Like Agostino and Hanowski, neither Reto Berra or Mark Cundari are household names – at least not here in Calgary (Berra may very well be a folk hero in Switzerland). Here’s some background on each guy:

Mark Cundari – 22 years old, D

Undrafted out of junior, Cundari has a somewhat similar resume to Mark Giordano (and he kinda looks like him) – although his results were a little heavier on the PIMs and a little lighter on the scoring, especially in his first three seasons with the Windsor Spitfires. His career best point total in junior topped out at eight goals and 54 points in 63 games on a heavyweight club that included Taylor Hall, Cam Fowler, Ryan Ellis, Adam Henrique and…Greg Nemisz. As mentioned, Cundari was also a consistent triple digit penalty minute guy in the OHL, despite only standing 5’10". I don’t know if that means he’s some sort of human honey badger or just takes a lot of hooking and high-sticking penalties…

Cundari has had a decent if unremarkable career in the AHL since turning pro. He leads the less than potent Peoria Riverman in scoring from the blueline so far this season with seven goals and 25 points in 56 games. When I talked to Corey Pronman about Cundari recently he noted the defender was tough but realtively small guy who can move the puck well. He apparently doesn’t have a high skill set/ceiling however and will probably top out as a third pairing guy if he makes the NHL.

Mark has already joined the Abbotsford Heat and will playing the remaining few games with the club. It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets a look with the big team at some point down the stretch as well.

Reto Berra – 26 years old, G

The goaltender is a far bigger wildcard in this deal. Originally drafted in the 4th round back in 2006 (the same year as Leland Irving), Berra has played his entire career in Switzerland, so is a virtual unknown. Feaster has said recently that the Flames scouts identified Berra as "one of the best goalies outside the NHL", but I’m not sure that’s indicative of anything. Flames management has been eager to heap hyperbole on players and additions these last few seasons under Feaster and puckstoppers tend to be voodoo anyways – GMs and scouts misidentify goalie talent more often than probably any other position.

Which means this really could go either way. I find it somewhat suspicious that the team who drafted Berra has never really endeavoured to bring him over the pond despite having some pretty obvious goalie issues (both this season and in years past when they were trading high-end prospects for Jaro Halak and signing flops like Brian Elliot), but maybe the player had no interest in playing in NA at the time.

Goaltending is the one area where you can sometimes pluck a 20/30-something guy out of an obscure league in Europe and actually strike gold. Jonas Hiller, Niklas Backstrom, Viktor Fasth and Tim Thomas are notable recent examples. Of course, there is also flops like Jonas Gustavsson, Henrik Karlsson, Erik Ersberg that have proved that there are no guarantees here.

Berra’s numbers in the NLA (Swiss pro league) are, to be blunt, underwhelming. If you click through the various links above, you’ll notice most of the those guys were posting save rates that would be very good-excellent even in the NHL before they established themselves in the show. That’s not true of Berra who hovers around the .905-.910 SV% in his pro career. This season he is 9th amongst NLA goalies with a .906 SV%, just behind former NHLer Jussi Markanen (.910).

UPDATE – Eliteprospects scout/writer Matias Strozyk had this to say about Berra when I asked him about the newest Flame goaltender today:

He’s one of the better Swiss goalies, but still only 26 years old. A big guy with great athleticism and movement. Had a very good season in 11/12, this year the whole team struggled and only barely missed the playouts. His Biel contract ended and he won’t be staying. Wants to head to North America next, so he would definitely be interested in going over for 13/14.

On why Berra never came over and challenged for a spot on the Blues:

If what I remember is correct, the Blues drafted him in ’06 and were pretty cramped goalie-wise. That was the time Marek Schwarz was there too. I remember talking to him about all the competition and him, Bacashihua, Legace, Sanford, Lalime etc. trying to get games in St. Louis/Peoria. Berra also had a couple of low-profile seasons after his draft year and only became a regular NLA starter in 09/10 after switching from Davos to Biel. Now he’s determined to move on after 4 years there.

Conclusion

Like the Iginla trade, the prospects coming back for Bouwmeester are fairly underwhelming – an undrafted AHL defenseman who might challenge for a third pairing job and a 26 year old pro goaltender who has never played the NA game and probably wasn’t even in the Blues plans moving forward. One or both guys might become something of value down the road (because you just never know) but they really look like the sort of extra pieces that pretty much any organization has floating around at any given time.

  • Stockley

    I notice that Flames fans like to refer to Edmonton as Shelbyville. That’s funny because what has entertained us over the years about that program is the idiocy of the residents of Springfield. And the reason the residents of Springfield dislike Shelbyville is because they are jealous of Shelbyville and its residents. They are always trying to equal or one up Shelbyville because of their own insecurities.

    Sometimes I genuinely question the intelligence of the participants from Calgary on this website.

    Just an observation.

      • McRib

        You honestly knocked me off of the current page, thus rendering my comment obsolete with this ignoramus reply!!! Uggghhh, inteligent people are trying to talk here!!

    • The obvious, enduring joke re: Shelbyville and Springfield in the Simpson’s is the two towns are more or less the same and that the citizen’s provincial dislike of one another is a satirical shot at the petty nationalism that dominates similar rivalries throughout the world. Shelbyville and Springfield are mirror images and it’s only an arbitrary border and superficial differences that separate them.

      “They had banished the awful lemon tree forever…because it was haunted. Now let’s all celebrate with a cool glass of turnip juice.”

      Perhaps you should have a cool glass of something and question your own intelligence instead.

  • Big Ell

    Isn’t the whole point of this sell off to be terrible next year as well. At this rate we are going to have another very high pick next year. It doesn’t really matter which goalie we throw to the wolves next year. Whether it is Ramo, McDonald, Berra etc. Unless Feaster plans on bringing in a new group consisting of amnesty buyouts. God I hope not.

  • McRib

    What is it with the Flames goaltender overload?!?!?!? If I were a betting man, I would say $100 bucks we draft another Goalie in the third round of this years draft!!! lol. If we trade Kipper I know what’s coming back…. Another Goalie!!!

  • Captain Ron

    Flames get MacKinnon 3rd overall, trade up using other 2 picks and get Ristolainen.

    Book it.

    Seriously though… quantum weirdness. Jagr goes for a song and a dance.

    • McRib

      Flames fans understand there are other defenders in the draft outside of Rasmus Ristolainen…. Having seen both of them numerous times give me Josh Morrissey’s intelligence and skating without trading up. Or Ryan Pulock on the PP with that second pick.

      Anyway if the Flames wanted a Finn they would have taken the one that fell into their laps last year… Teemu Hartikainen… Remember it was like a gift from the Hockey Gods… An 8-10th overall projection falls… But the oldest team in the NHL trades down for a 5-6 year project…

      If we don’t severely mess up these 3 first rounder’s I’ll be surprised. If the Flames are trading up I would think it would be for Adam Erne, with John Weisbrod’s NE History. Ugghhh, and I can almost guarantee you that Zach Fucale is going to be one of our first rounder’s as well. Not that we need anymore Goaltender’s. Honestly I would love to see a Madison Bowey with that third first but I doubt that happens. A Nicolas Petan, Kerby Rychel or a J.T. Compher would be nice as well.

      • RexLibris

        “Anyway if the Flames wanted a Finn they would have taken the one that fell into their laps last year… Teemu Hartikainen… Remember it was like a gift from the Hockey Gods… An 8-10th overall projection falls… But the oldest team in the NHL trades down for a 5-6 year project…”

        ?

        Hartikainen was drafted in the 6th round back in 2008. By the Oilers.

        Were you thinking of Teuvo Teravainen?

  • McRib

    It’s interesting that no one from my knowledge has mentioned, our recent Abbotsford amateur tryout signing of Michigan Tech Alum Steven Seigo!!!

    Really liked his game when he was with the Bonnyville Pontiacs, thought he was a surefire NHL Draft Pick in 2008 out of the AJHL and he had a solid college career!

    Hopefully we stop trading for A** Hats at some point so we can ink him in the off season. He has two assists and a +1 rating in three games so far in the AHL from the blueline.

  • Big Ell

    Maybe we can get anyone of the 2nd gen Flames in 2014 Sam Reinhart son of Paul, Nylander son of Michael, Ryan MacInnis son of Al or maybe go off the grid and take Kasper Kapanen son of Sami or Josh Wesley son of Glen. Then we can be the Young Sons, sorry!

  • McRib

    Repost thanks to NateBaldwin and his Shelbyville rant: It’s interesting that no one (from my knowledge) has mentioned, our recent Abbotsford amateur tryout signing of Michigan Tech Alum D-Steven Seigo!!!

    Really liked his game when he was with the Bonnyville Pontiacs, thought he was a surefire NHL Draft Pick in 2008 and he had a solid college career!

    Hopefully we stop trading for A** Hats at some point so we can ink him in the off season. He has two assists and a +1 rating in three games so far in the AHL from the blueline.

    Has anyone had the chance to watch him play in Abby?!?!?!

  • Parallex

    Jagr got traded today… 2nd round pick and two prospects that make the guys we got for Iggy & JBo seem like household names in comparison. Derek Roy for a 2nd as well.

    … It’s apparently less of a sellers market then we were led to believe. Subsequent deals are actually making our two trades seem pretty good in comparison.

    • NateBaldwin

      I would imagine other GMs are pissed that feaster is a moron and set the standards so low and nobody is getting much.. Also read that 3 GMs that Dreger talked to couldn’t believe how little jbo went for….

      Wouldn’t be surprised if he is the reason for the bad market.

        • McRib

          Uggghhh, Detroit’s prospects are like GOLD!! Man Feaster is ruining everything and I was defending him before the JBo trade. Derek Roy got a better prospect than JBo and Iginla did…. Honestly we are talking about Derek “I have not broken a sweat since signing my first big deal a few years back” Roy. Buffalo and Dallas couldn’t get him out of town fast enough and they get Connauton for him… who is basically a Dennis Wideman in a year or two.

        • RexLibris

          Somewhat that, but feaster is never worried about that. Signed babs, and sarich and they are plugs…. Gave wideman and huddler pretty fat contracts.

          Seems like retaining a few mill for next year would have been a good idea if it would have increased the value. We could have got ride of the big three and kept 2 mil for each and still been doing fine next year for cap.

          If kipper goes we might have to spend to hit the cap min.

      • As an Oilers fan I feel empathy for the Flames fan watching Feaster dismantle your organization. He’s trading actual players for late first rounders and 3rd line AHL’ers. I gotta say I would not trade Tambo straight across for Feaster, and I’d do Tambo for a well used urinal puck.

        Kippers probably going for 2 seconds and the rights to Rico Fata. You guys need an intervention.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Jagr is 65 and got a 2nd, a 19 year old power winger who is on the rise and another tough 23 year old who has played some NHL games.
      Roy has a whopping 4 goals and got a 2nd and the 6th rated Vancouver prospect. These guys are more of a name than anything we got.

    • Colin.S

      Yeah this trade deadline seems to be weird, nobody is getting top dollar for ANYTHING, though I still hope with all these no names getting traded we can offload like a sarich and Babchuk.

      • RexLibris

        Douglas Murray got the Sharks two 2nd round picks.

        I suspect that Tambellini is waiting on Ryan Whitney hoping that he can get an overpay in that range (although probably a prospect/player in lieu of picks).

  • SmellOfVictory

    The fact that Feaster is constantly trying to acquire every single “best goalie outside the NHL” is driving me nuts. You’d think that Ramo and Taylor, plus the 2-3 other apparently good dudes in their teens/early 20s would be enough for him. I’d rather have gotten a 3rd round pick or something instead.

  • McRib

    With the flames 3 1st round draft picks I’m torn between what I think they should do.

    Do you take 1 player in the top 5 plus 2 players in the bottom or do you trade your two bottom draft picks for another top ten pick and have two in the top ten?

    • RexLibris

      The Flames should use every pick on players. Trading up is not a wise decision for them this year. They need to restock and the best way to insure against prospect attrition is quantity.

      I suspect they’ll target Jones, then a larger centre like Rychel, Mantha or perhaps Lazar (provided the Blues make the playoffs) and then try for Tristan Jarry or Zach Fucale (assuming the Penguins pick is a later 1st rounder).

      I’m sure Feaster will say that the Penguins 1st round pick is an improvement over the 2nd they gave up in the Cammalleri deal and therefore entirely justifies last season’s trade.

  • icedawg_42

    In 2007, Oilers had 3 first round picks – 6, 13, and 21. They managed to cash those picks into Sam Gagner, Alex Plante (like everyone else, they whiffed on P.K.Subban) and TRADED UP for the famous Riley Nash, now playing for Carolina. And that was AFTER they had upgraded their scouting system. I don’t know what that proves except that a boatload of first round picks probably doesn’t guarantee an insta-rebuild, unless your picks are 1, 2 and 3. And the fantasy that that you can convert a couple of late first round picks into a top 5 is probably just that – fantasy. Teams have to suffer too much for a top 5 (and really, check draft history, after the top 5 the draft quickly becomes a random lottery) to throw away a sure thing for magic beans.

    • I think 2003 is a more comparable year in regards to the quality of players.

      The LA Kings had 3 selections in the first round and took:

      13 Dustin Brown
      26 Brian Boyle
      27 Jeff Tambellini

      While I agree on your sentiments re: no SURE THINGS outside of first few picks, the Flames finally have an opportunity to select some highly touted prospects – something that hasn’t been normal.

      I’m excited about the possibilities, and am hoping that we can add some valuable pieces to the franchise moving forward.

      • Scary Gary

        I think that sort of sums it up. 2003 was an amazing draft – look at all those great players from that year. Yet….3 first rounders for LA – one home run(Brown), Boyle,a useful depth forward who didnt play a full NHL season until 7 years after he was drafted (and was with the Rangers by then), and a guy who is in the Swiss elite league now. And LA had two shots at a future Hart trophy winner(Corey Perry) and whiffed both times. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather have the picks than not have them – and the more you have the more likely you strike gold, but building through the draft is maddeningly frustrating and requires patience, a very thick skin(as you collect a few years worth of top 5’s) and not a little bit of luck.

  • icedawg_42

    I was trying to think of the best way to evaluate this trade. I went to Capgeek to look at what they put as Bouwmeester comparables. The closest in terms of cap hit, age, year of contract expiring and production is (strangely enough) Phaneuf.

    So, this trade is basically like Calgary traded Greg Nemisz, Leland Irving and a 1st rounder for Phaneuf. Or Bouwmeester.

    Would we give up more than that right now? Do you think a playoff bound team would?

  • RKD

    I have to keep repeating myself, GMs were not going to give us Saad, Frolik, Depres, Maata, Bennett, Spooner, or Knight for Iggy. Nor Ty Rattie for Jay-Bo. When Reg was traded people were delusional in thinking we would land Kassian or Myers. Pipe dreams.

    Trading Jay-Bo tomorrow doesn’t guarantee we would have got better return, the Red Wings GM Ken Holland refused to even offer us a first round pick for Jay-Bo. In fact, the return could have been thinner.

    Am I disappointed the prospects aren’t as high, as any Flames fan would be, yes. I am excited to have two first round picks, I don’t see the Blues missing the playoffs. The draft pool is very deep this year, there is no better time to collect picks than now. We could have up to 3-5 picks by tomorrow afternoon, when was the last time the Flames had three or more first round picks?

    Cundari looks like he is the most NHL ready.

  • Derzie

    Kipper walking for nothing is fine with me. We need to move on and our hard-to-read GM needs to be thwarted in his quest to collect goalies like so many stamps or butterflies.