Columbus Blue Jackets assistant general manager Bill Zito is one of several contenders to be named GM of the Seattle expansion franchise.
"We are in the process of speaking with a number of candidates, Bill Zito among them," NHL Seattle president and CEO Tod Leiweke told The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker. "There are certainly many aspects of him that we like and find intriguing. He's certainly somebody that brings a lot to the table and that I'm sure a lot of clubs would be interested in."
Leiweke said the process is still in its preliminary stages and wouldn't name any of the other hopefuls with whom the league's newest franchise has spoken.
Zito was in Seattle meeting with the expansion group on Thursday, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, who adds that it's part of the team's continued due diligence and it's still unclear whether they'll hire a GM this summer or next year.
The 54-year-old is a former player agent who joined the Blue Jackets in the summer of 2013. He was named general manager of their AHL affiliate, now the Cleveland Monsters, two years later.
Zito also served as GM of the U.S. squad at last year's World Championship. He previously interviewed with the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, and Philadelphia Flyers, according to Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch.
Former Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland was long thought to be a candidate for Seattle's opening but was named general manager of the Oilers earlier this week.
Vegas Golden Knights executive Kelly McCrimmon was also previously believed to be in the mix for both the Seattle and Edmonton jobs until the Golden Knights promoted him from assistant GM to general manager last week.
The Seattle club is scheduled to begin play in 2021-22.