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After 16 years, 45 days, Sullivan a Devil again

Saturday, 04.6.2013 / 12:31 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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After 16 years, 45 days, Sullivan a Devil again

 
The last time Steve Sullivan suited up as a Devil – Feb. 20, 1997 – Star Wars was the top movie at the box office, Michael Jordan was in the midst of his second three-peat with the Chicago Bulls, and a gallon of gas cost $1.22.

Now, after 16 years and 45 days, Sullivan is back where he made his NHL debut. The 38-year-old veteran of 1,002 games will skate on the Devils' top line tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit Prudential Center.

"It's hard to believe it's gone by so quickly," said Sullivan, who was acquired from Phoenix at Wednesday's trade deadline for a seventh-round pick in 2014. "To come back full circle to where it all began is not something you think about, but when I got the call [about the trade] and it was coming back to New Jersey it was very nice to hear."

Sullivan will reunite with former Albany River Rat linemate Patrik Elias on a trio centered by Andrei Loktionov. Together, they were members of the Devils' 1994 draft class: Elias in the second round, 51st overall; Sullivan in the ninth round, 233rd overall.

"It's been a long time, but exciting," Sullivan said. "Obviously to be able to play with a player of his skill is going to be good. I'm very excited about the opportunity to play with him again."

When Sullivan first broke into the League on Feb. 23, 1996, the Devils were first-time defending Stanley Cup champs. Now a season removed from its fifth trip to the Final, the club hopes Sullivan can inject some energy into this year's playoff push.

"I remember actually watching him play junior hockey in Sault Ste. Marie at the beginning of my coaching career," head coach Peter DeBoer said. "He's always been a dynamic player that brings some special talents to the table, so I'm excited to work with him."

Sullivan had five goals, seven assists in 33 games with Phoenix this season, though his top line role reflects DeBoer's belief in his offensive upside.

"Speed, skill, work ethic, competitiveness," DeBoer said when asked what Sullivan can contribute. "You don't play in the NHL at his size for as long as he's played without one, being dynamic and two, having a big set, so to speak."

Elias also expects Sullivan's creativity to provide a boost. Sullivan becomes the 24th player to be re-acquired and play for the Devils. 

"I've watched him play, I played against him last year when he was in Pittsburgh, and he did a great job with those guys," Elias said. "[He] controlled the power play, he's very skilled with the puck, and we have to play that way. Our lines, especially the way we're set up today, we've got to try to hold on to it, make plays, try to be on the move. Hopefully we can create some good opportunities out there."

Projected lines for April 6 vs. Toronto:

Patrik Elias - Andrei Loktionov - Steve Sullivan

Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson

Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Matt D'Agostini

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne

Henrik Tallinder - Peter Harrold

Martin Brodeur

Johan Hedberg

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59