Yeah I'd be surprised if Legion was available in anything other than a very early access/alpha form by the end of the year, I'd expect it "released " end of *next* year at the earliest.
Admittedly CCP and releases don't really mean much, given Dust was "released" a year ago and still doesn't have a complete set of art assets in game (eg no amarr/matari structures), let alone all the functionality they've talked about for years...
Other than the platform side of things, the talk about what EVE Legion is nothing new. All of it has been mentioned in the context of Dust 514 before, from salvaging to PVE vs rogue drones to strong ties to EVE and the map. So those Dust folk you talked to were spot on, they're all "Dust things" that failed to materialise in Dust. (Except a very boring implementation of salvaging at the end of matches, where it just randomly gives you some stuff.)
I hope that character/asset transfer at least covers names and BPOs, even if in cosmetic form only. The templar kit from the EVE CE looks awesome, carthum colours. \o/