Now Legein hopes to find a home inside the Philadelphia Flyers organization, starting first with the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms.
Jackets GM Scott Howson shipped Legein, the 37th overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, to Philadelphia Tuesday in exchange for minor-league defenseman Mike Ratchuk, who the Flyers selected with the 42nd overall pick in 2006.
Legein, 20, initially announced his retirement from the game on Aug. 19, 2008. But he returned four months later, showing up in the Golden Horseshoe Junior League with the St. Catharines Falcons before skating with the OHL's Brampton Battalion.
He was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, Columbus' top minor-league affiliate, in early January and wound up scoring one goal in 26 games.
Legein, who played for Canada in the 2008 World Juniors, was one of the Jackets' top players at last month's Traverse City Prospects Tournament, where plenty of Flyers' scouts went despite not having a team in the event.
He had 2 goals and 1 assist in six games for Syracuse this season.
"It was a long year for me and I guess everyone handles everything differently," Legein told NHL.com in Traverse City. "I was tired, I was beat up, but I obviously realize (leaving the game) may not have been the right choice for me now. But it was one of those things you have to do; you can't just fake something like this. It's a career, so I did what I had to do and now I'm back trying to work back to where I was."
Ratchuk, who played collegiately at Michigan State, has been full-time in the AHL since late in the 2007-08 season. He had 17 points in 77 games last season and had an assist in five games with Adirondack this season.
The Buffalo native had 25 points in 42 games in his final season at Michigan State.
Howson is trying to stockpile defensive prospects who can move the puck and join the rush in hopes of finding one or two that become difference makers at the NHL level.
"We have a long term need of upgrading the puck-moving ability of our defense," the GM told NHL.com this past summer.
Ratchuk joins 2009 first-round pick John Moore and 2008 second-round pick Cody Goloubef as prospects who fit that mold. Moore is in the OHL with Kitchener and Goloubef is a junior at Wisconsin.
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org