After splitting last season between the Manitoba Moose and Ontario Reign, Nelson Nogier is off to the KHL. The minor league defenseman has signed a one-year deal with Barys Nur-Sultan, leaving North America after parts of six years in the AHL.
While a player with just 11 NHL games signing in the KHL isn’t usually much of a story, Nogier’s Group VI unrestricted free agency and subsequent departure ends a decades-long trade tree, one that originated with the most famous transaction in NHL history. As Sportsnet’s Steve “Dangle” Glynn points out, Nogier was the last remaining piece of the Wayne Gretzky tree.
The 26-year-old was a fourth-round pick of the Jets in 2014 and actually made it to the NHL just a few years later, but hasn’t been able to establish himself at the highest level. When he was swapped for Markus Phillips earlier this year, he joined the tree, and after Phillips was left unqualified by the Jets and signed with Assat in Liiga, Nogier became the very last branch.
Trade trees are just for fun, but it is somewhat surprising that Nogier wasn’t able to secure at least a minor league deal in the AHL to this point. Perhaps he wasn’t willing to play for that and was looking for a bigger opportunity, but he has been a capable defenseman for years. He is even coming off his longest playoff appearance, where he added three points in five games for the Reign.