Hawthorn’s activity in the draft and trading period has bolstered its chance at winning another premiership.
A shake-up of the list has seen experienced players in Chance Bateman, Cameron Bruce, Stephan Gilham, Tom Murphy and Clinton Young all depart. Alistair Clarkson countered the vacancies by filling them with low-risk trades and intelligent drafting.
Clarkson’s biggest coup was the acquisition of former All-Australian Brian Lake. The seasoned full-back may not have many seasons left in him but he proved to still be a talented player in 2012. Many fans would see Lake as a significant upgrade on Murphy and Gilham, who were inconsistent and injury prone respectively.
Lake will be able to take the pressure off the young Ryan Schoenmakers as well as be able to combine with Josh Gibson as attacking tall backmen. The once feeble defence now looks to be much more imposing, providing that Lake can easily adjust to the Hawthorn game style.
Whilst neither Murphy nor Gilham were considered to be pivotal players for the Hawks, it was perhaps surprising that they were both moved on, considering that Hawthorn’s backline is arguably its weakest point in terms of depth and quality of key defenders.
However, Jed Anderson from the Northern Territory was acquired via GWS through the Gilham trade. Anderson was a highly-rated prospect and may become a pivotal part of Hawthorn’s future. Matt Spangher from the Swans essentially covers the absence of Murphy and he was acquired at a minimal cost.
Hawthorn perhaps flew a little under the radar following the acquisition of Lake as Clarkson aimed to pack some more depth into the squad. However, it would be naive to write Hawthorn’s trading off as purely a stock up. The Hawks now have every key position filled with a star player.
All of Hawthorn’s low stakes trades generally can be considered as a positive outcome. However, for these trades to become truly justified, the Hawks must taste premiership success next year or the year after or else the chase for older players may just clog up the senior list.
There has been some planning for the future; the aforementioned Anderson may become an exciting prospect. Tim O’Brien is a talented, athletic key forward who the Hawks acquired with pick 28 in the National Draft, which surprised some keen draft watchers.
O’Brien was expected to be drafted around pick 20 so he may prove to be a great steal for the Hawks if he can become successful in the future. The Hawks will only use one pick in the Rookie Draft on Kurt Heatherley and will not partake in the Pre-Season Draft.
Aside from the positives, Hawthorn has lost a wealth of experience over the last few months. The retirements of Bateman and Bruce perhaps pushed Clarkson into re-drafting Michael Osborne to ensure there is enough leadership around the change rooms, making sure the transition from this final flag tilt to a somewhat more youthful team is seamless.
The departure of the talented Clinton Young through free agency leaves the Hawks with less kicking fire power, yet that is easily covered through their mountains of depth.
Aside from these losses and the potentially questionable re-drafting of Osborne, Hawthorn has done a marvellous yet understated job at boosting its chances of winning another premiership.