After an extensive period of discussions and talks, it was revealed that Chris Dawes’ desired exit from Collingwood was to be as far away as the other side of Gosch’s Paddock, with the forward traded to Melbourne.
Dawes had named the Demons as his first priority to play with in 2013, despite the fact that he had a year to run on his contract with his now-former club.
An apparent conflict with Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley may lie at the root of his reasons for the departure and his wish was granted, with him and Collingwood’s pick 58 in the National Draft heading to Melbourne for picks 20 and 45.
It sets up a nice array of picks – the Magpies have their first rounder at pick 18, as well as the pick 17 acquired in the Sharrod Wellingham trade – for the upcoming National Draft, and there’s no doubt that they’ll look to bolster their superb young talent even further.
Melbourne, on the flipside, will now leave the draft with two of its four picks inside the top 30 still in its grasp. While Jack Viney has been locked in to be selected with pick 26, the Demons still have pick 4, assuming they make no more trades throughout the rest of the period.
With their other two picks, being picks 3 and 13, going towards gun 17-year-old forward Jesse Hogan, speedster Dom Barry and pick 20 used to acquire Dawes, coach Mark Neeld’s approach is obvious.
Melbourne has filled two needs with two top picks, being a tall target up forward to play second fiddle to Mitch Clark, and outside run and spread which they struggled with throughout the season.
The recruitment of Hogan and Dawes is interesting, though; the picture has now been painted for a three-pronged tall forward line to serve them for years to come.
However, one has to wonder whether it’s overfilling, and overpaying, for the glaring need.
With the likely trio of talls up forward solidifying the forward arch, it leaves a much more difficult approach for the younger contingent of the pre-Neeld era.
Demons Jack Fitzpatrick, who played well for Melbourne late in the year as well as for the entire season with Casey Scorpions, Lucas Cook, a project but a top draft pick and a talent, and Jack Watts, at least in his original position as a key forward, have a new struggle on their hands to prove themselves at the absolute least.
It also has to be wondered whether the pick 20 was truly worth a player of the calibre – or seemingly, lack thereof – of Dawes.
Dawes has kicked 73 goals in the last three season with Collingwood as premiership contenders. To put that into perspective, Jack Riewoldt has 205 and Matthew Pavlich has 151 from the same period.
They may just be two of the few genuine forwards who can lay a claim to being the best in the league, but whichever way it’s twisted, they’re two forwards who haven’t enjoyed the sublime delivery of a premiership-winning midfield like Dawes has during his time with Collingwood.
It’s a midfield that has led the competition in inside 50s in two of the last three years and it’s a midfield that Dawes is yet to perform under. What evidence is there to suggest that he can perform in a midfield that has recorded a bottom-six finish in that category every year in that same period?
Structurally, he fits into Melbourne’s needs, playing as a second key forward and filling a role.
With poor form hovering over his shoulders, however, as well as a fantastic prospect in Hogan looking ready to burst onto the scene, the onus will be on how well he fills that role and if he can effectively hold it down in the years to come.
For now, the cloud around him suggests that Collingwood wins the trade quite comfortably.
We’ll have to wait and see whether Dawes can prove it as a win for all parties.