LA Kings trade for a kid with more questions than answers

So, Kings GM Dean Lombardi made another trade with the Philadelphia Flyers today. At least that’s how it’s going to read in some places. Yet, there is so much more to this deal. Or is there?

Jammed by the salary cap and total number of player contracts under contract, the Flyers needed a little breathing room. No problem. They called up their old buddy for some help. And in exchange for the always popular ‘future considerations’ the Kings picked up a sixth round draft pick and Stefan Legein.

Which is where things get really interesting.

Normally, people wouldn’t be talking much about this deal. It would be more like a shuffling of paperwork than a real hockey trade.

However, upon further investigation you’ll see that Legein is one of the most interesting stories to come out of the NHL Draft in years.

He was an assistant captain on the gold medal winning Team Canada squad at the 2008 World Junior Championships – a team that also featured Drew Doughty, Thomas Hickey, Jonathan Bernier and Wayne Simmonds.

Legein hurt his shoulder during the tournament and some have claimed he’s never been the same since. He came back months later to finish out the OHL season and made his AHL debut, playing two playoff games for the Syracuse Crunch, once his junior club had been eliminated from the playoffs.

That summer, he announced his retirement from hockey – yes, at the age of 19 – essentially, walking out on the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had drafted him 37th overall in 2007.

What went wrong?

At first, some speculated it was just a prank. After all, this was the kid known for terrorizing his teammates with practical jokes.

That wasn’t it. He was serious.

In the video below, he shows off his silly side by conducting a mock interview with John Tavares at the 2008 WJC.

When he decided to return to the ice in late December, Legein told TSN that contrary to previous reports, he never left because of his girlfriend or drugs or any other tabloid-worthy story. He just lost his desire to play hockey.

The 5-foot-9 right wing, who had been working shifts at a pizza parlor during his time off, took a few weeks to get back into game shape and then rejoined the Crunch for the balance of the season. In 26 games, he had one goal for Syracuse.

Early the following year, he was traded to the Flyers and had his most productive pro season to date, posting 24 goals in 72 games played for their AHL affiliate in Adirondack.

He was also second worst on the team, with a minus-19 rating.

Last season he had five goals in 41 games with Adirondack and also played two games for the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL.

Which leads to a question.

Over the summer, the Ontario Reign were adamant about needing more players from the Kings. So far, it looks like goalie JF Berube is the only Kings prospect who will start the year in the ECHL. Could Legein be just the guy to bump that number up by one?

For now, he’s headed to Manchester. How long he stays there though is to-be-determined, at best.

The most likely scenario, for the short term, would have the Monarchs sending a player to Ontario to make room for him.

In the end, every player has a story.

Chances are, Legein’s is probably far from being completed.

Too many questions, so few answers about a former highly rated prospect.

The Mayor
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RELATED ARTICLES:

Team Canada report with Drew Doughty

WJC memories with Captain Canada

JF Berube may be looking for a new nickname

Many frustrations for Ontario Reign President Justin Kemp

Cruising the mall with Simmonds and Doughty

Exclusive:  Jim Fox on the Kings trade for Mike Richards

Ian Laperriere on the Richards vs. Pronger issue with the Flyers

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