WHL players excited that NHL arriving in Seattle

“We were talking about it the other day in the dressing room and it sounds like it went pretty well,” said Brandon Sutter, a Vancouver Canucks center and cousin of Everett Silvertips center Riley Sutter.

But the groundswell of support for the NHL in Seattle could lift the game into the mainstream.

“I think it’s going to be great I think it’s going to be an easy transition for fans,” said New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, the former Thunderbird who is the front-runner for the Calder Trophy awarded to the NHL’s rookie of the year.

It was the first time the Coquitlam-born Barzal played an NHL game in what is essentially his hometown, and the assembled media and fans were thick before, during and after the contest.

Current Silvertips Carter Hart (Philadelphia), Garrett Pilon (Washington) and Ondrej Vala (Dallas) all have signed NHL contracts and figure to be in the professional ranks next year.

There’s a chance any or all of them could be at the NHL level by the time the league potentially gets to Seattle in 2020.

“I think the Seattle area is less familiar with the game of hockey than areas like (Philadelphia), but Seattle is a sports city,” Hart said.