• Elite Hockey Experience

Visiting the Office Of...Doug Waite



Welcome once again to "Visiting the Office Of...", an interview series brought to you by the Elite Hockey Experience.

In this edition we had a chat with Doug Waite, who has overseen the launch of the EHE's first-ever expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights.



When did you join the Elite Hockey Experience? Had you been involved with sim hockey before?

I joined the EHE in late January/Early February of 2017. I was involved in another league at the same time. I liked being in that league also, but with most of the GM’s being from Quebec, the language barrier got a little tiring to deal with at times. I ended up leaving that league at the end of the season, and really put everything I do fantasy wise into the EHE.

How did your first season go in the general manager's chair?

When I was with San Jose the first year, the team was on the edge of making the playoffs. We didn’t have a first-round pick, so I was trying to make the playoffs for most of my time there. When things started to slip away, I was more interested in moving out my UFA’s and figuring out a plan going forward. Thankfully, I was able to get the hell out of there, and some poor fella had to take over that sinking ship.

After that you became the first and only GM to take over an expansion team in the EHE, moving from the Sharks to the newly-minted Golden Knights. How do you look back on your time in San Jose?

I enjoyed it. I geared my articles towards being a drunken ass taking over the team. Which did not seem to be too difficult. I liked San Jose, I was just annoyed at all the moves that former GM’s had made in dealing away the future for not much of a gain.

From expansion draft to entry draft to free agency, just how much work was it to build the inaugural Golden Knights roster? Can you express it as a factor of empty PBR cans?

Ha, oh man. Don’t get me started on the number of sweet, sweet PBR’s that were drank.

Once I joined the league, I did everything I could to try to get everything completed in order to apply for the Vegas job. It pretty much started in February when I created an Excel Sheet for the Expansion Draft. The plan was, I was just going to send it to the league, and the Vegas GM to help them out if I did not win the GM Lottery. Along the way, myself and the former LA GM did a mock expansion draft to get interest rolling on what a team could look like.

As for building it, I had a pretty good idea thanks to creating that spreadsheet on the players I was going to target if they had become available.

For the Entry Draft, I figured I would be within the top six, I ended up fourth. I was open to moving down in the draft if I could get a quality prospect in return. I ended up moving down, and getting Ilya Samsonov in a deal……if only I had stayed at four.

Speaking of the draft, in 2018 you said all along that you knew who you wanted at third overall. But close to draft day, a couple of kids (Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Barret Hayton) saw their stock rise dramatically. Were you even a little tempted to nab one of those guys in place of Filip Zadina?

I really was trying to move back. I knew if I stayed at three I was going to take Zadina. I was really trying to move back a couple picks, and draft Quinn Hughes, Kotkaniemi, or Tkachuk. I was really high on Hughes, and still am.

So what quality best exemplifies the identity of a Doug Waite team? Is there a particular position, or a specific element of the game, that you think it's crucial to focus on?

I really wanted a defensive minded team. When I set out on building the team, I wanted to build from the back-end out. I wanted it to start with solid goaltending, which last year I got from Jonathan Quick, and again this year with Antti Raanta. My defense was solid, but I did not have a number one for most of last year before I grabbed Kris Letang.

Thankfully, Colorado was not able to protect Brad Marchand, and he has been the life-blood of our offense. Without getting Marchand in the expansion draft, this team would have been totally different, and I think would been more geared towards building for the future.

After the roster was finally put together for that first season, the Golden Knights made an amazing run to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. Since then, the only significant move you've made was to trade Mike Hoffman for James van Riemsdyk. Has the blueprint just been to stick with what worked in 2017-18?

Everything just seemed to click with this line-up, so I did not want to move too many pieces around. There was a low point during the season where I was really considering making some drastic moves, but then I sobered up, and we started to win again, so thankfully I did not do something stupid.

Your league articles are pretty much legendary at this point. Where do you find the time, and how did you learn the skills to make them look so good?

Thank you. Due to my real-life job keeping me on a graveyard shift, I find plenty of time to do them when everyone else is sleeping or working.

I graduated with an art degree from college, so I started the articles to keep me interested in doing some form of art-work. I think the real artwork is my spreadsheets that I use as a base for all the information I put into the articles. The next one will hopefully be out in a few weeks, I’m sure it will create some comments, so keep your eyes out for it.

Speaking of which, I've always wanted to know: Is Mr. Snrub a personal hero of yours or something?

Haha, I’ve always been a Simpsons nerd. I wanted my league avatar to be some obscure Simpsons reference, and that scene always killed me. It seems to have just stuck with me now and I like to include it at the end of my yearbooks as a signature.

Over your time in the league, have you made any one trade that you're particularly proud of?

The Calvin Pickard for third overall with St. Louis is pretty tough to beat. Sorry Shaun.

Any trades you wish you could take back?

Plenty. The one though that I still think about is moving back in the Entry Draft of 2017. I had the fourth overall pick, but ended up moving back [to 11th overall] and also got Ilya Samsonov in the deal.

I ended up drafting Timothy Liljegren, but if I had stayed at four I could have had Elias Pettersson or Cale Makar.

We already talked about the success of the Golden Knights in Year One, but you also managed to build the Rapid City Rush into a playoff team in their first AHL season. Was it a high priority for you to have a competitive farm team right off the bat? There was a time in San Jose where you seemed to forget you even had an AHL affiliate...

Last year with Rapid City was more of a fluke then anything. I was trying to build the Knights up and was in a scramble during free agency to sign enough players for the Rush.

This year I have been paying more attention to the Rush, but things really haven’t been working out. Little by little I will make moves in Rapid City…..or wherever the team is playing next year….

With San Jose, I wasn’t impressed with the AHL team, and was planning on making some drastic moves for our farm system if I had stayed in the coming off-season.

What advice would you give to a GM just starting out in the EHE?

Talk to the other GM’s. There are so many interesting quirks in this league, that you might not know what is going on when you first start. Just ask questions on how things run.

Any tips for the future Seattle GM? Assuming it's not you, of course. (laughs)

Even if I was allowed to get into the running, I’ve already had my fun with an expansion draft.

My advice would be, to be organized. So many little things seemed to pop out on which players were available, and the number of different ways you can go. Have an idea on how you want your team set up. Also, send me an email, because I am sure I will have a spreadsheet waiting for you after I do another mock draft article.

Grab your crystal ball and look at the state of the Golden Knights three years from now. What do you see?

A lot of new faces. It will be the end of an era for the main guys we have on the roster now, so not sure if we will be in a soft rebuild by that time, or a full on one. Should be interesting to say the least. While Calgary is stomping the division, I might have to take Stephen’s model of a rebuild and build for 2025.

Previous entries in the series;

Gilbert Dubois, Edmonton Oilers (March 2019)

Justin Hill, Tampa Bay Lightning (March 2019)

Travis Fleming, Vancouver Canucks (February 2019)

Duran Size, Montreal Canadiens (January 2019)

Cisco Valle, Detroit Red Wings (January 2019)

Shaun Stephens, St. Louis Blues (December 2018)

Brandyn Errickson

Another great piece.

Visiting the Office Of...Doug Waite

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