5: Steve Sullivan
In 1994, the Devils struck gold with their draft class. With their second-round pick, the Devils selected Patrik Elias, who became the team’s all-time leading scorer, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, and had his number retired. Another selection in the 1994 draft was 233rd overall pick Steve Sullivan.
An undersized forward, Sullivan was 5’10 and less than 170 pounds soaking wet. Sullivan made his NHL debut in the 1995-96 season, the year after the Devils won their first Stanley Cup. He played in 16 games in his first season, scoring nine points. Sullivan showed a lot of promise and was traded the next season to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a bigger trade that brought Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour to New Jersey.
For the next 15 years, Sullivan carved out a very respectable career while playing for five other teams. At 38, Sullivan was on the Coyotes in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. The Coyotes were struggling and were going to sell at the deadline. Sullivan had 12 points in 33 games when the trade deadline approached.
The Devils, who were very much in the playoff race, traded for Sullivan. A team that needed more punch after their Stanley Cup Final appearance the season prior traded for a 38-year-old in the twilight of his career. That was it. Nothing else. No hard-hitting defenseman, no one to replace the departed Zach Parise, just Sullivan. Sullivan had five points in nine games for the Devils as they missed the playoffs. Then, Sullivan retired.
The Devils only gave up a seventh-round pick to get the veteran. The Coyotes ended up selecting someone that never played in the NHL, so it did not hit as hard it could have. However, Ondrej Kase, Jake Evans, and Jacob Middleton were selected just after the pick the Devils gave up. So, it could have been worse. The fact that it was just Steve Sullivan at the deadline was disappointing and the main reason his re-acquisition was not higher on this list.