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Sullivan to play for Devils against Maple Leafs

by Staff

Three days after being acquired by the New Jersey Devils in an NHL Trade Deadline-day deal with the Phoenix Coyotes, veteran forward Steve Sullivan will debut Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Prudential Center.

According to the team's Twitter page, the 38-year-old forward will play right wing on the Devils top line alongside Patrik Elias and another in-season acquisition, Andrei Loktionov.

Sullivan and Elias were linemates for the Devils' minor-league team in Albany 17 years ago.

"I'm excited," Sullivan said Saturday, according to The Record of Hackensack. "Obviously to play with a player with his skill is going to be good. I'm very excited about the opportunity to play with him again."

Sullivan, who signed a free-agent contract with the Coyotes over the summer, has collected 742 points over parts of 18 seasons. The trade with New Jersey returns Sullivan to the franchise that selected him in the ninth round of the 1994 NHL Draft. Sullivan played 49 games with the Devils before being traded to the Maple Leafs during the 1996-97 season.

"I didn't know this at the time we put it together, but him and Patty actually played on a line in Albany [17] years ago," coach Peter DeBoer said. "That wasn’t the reason we did it. You bring in a new guy, you want to give him an opportunity to play with good players. Those guys, I think, think the game on the same level. They move through the neutral zone at the same type of speed, so you cross your fingers and you hope that they complement each other."

Sullivan was acquired from the Coyotes on Wednesday in exchange for a seventh-round pick. He is the fourth forward the Devils have added to their roster in the last two months. In February, New Jersey added Loktionov and Alexei Ponikarovsky in trades with the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets, respectively. They then acquired Matt D'Agostini last month from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in 2015.

The Maple Leafs, who are without forward Joffrey Lupul due to an upper-body injury, will have some slight tweaks in their lineup. According to Paul Hendrick of Leafs TV, defenseman Jake Gardiner will be back in the lineup, making his first appearance since March 26. Forward Matt Frattin will be a healthy scratch and Joe Colborne will center the team's fourth line.

David Alter from Sportsnet 590 reports that forwards Clarke MacArthur and Leo Komarov are expected back in the lineup after dealing with upper-body injuries. Defenseman Ryan O'Byrne is expected to make his Maple Leafs debut after being acquired from the Colorado Avalanche on deadline day in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2014.

Here are the Devils' projected lines, according to Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger:

Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson

Patrik Elias - Andrei Loktionov - Steve Sullivan

Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Matt D'Aostini

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne

Henrik Tallinder - Peter Harrold

Martin Brodeur

Johan Hedberg

Scratches: Adam Larsson, Anton Volchenkov, Krys Barch, Tom Kostopoulos

Injuries: Ilya Kovalchuk (shoulder)

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