How much will trade fire sale hurt Hawks?

    After Sam Mitchell’s first year as senior coach, the Hawks have taken another step backwards to move forwards after an exodus of senior stars in the off-season. It has left an experience void at the Hawks and how long it takes for the club to see the fruits of its rebuild will come down to how many of the club’s emerging players can take a leap forward in 2023.HAWTHORNCoach: Sam MitchellCaptain: TBCWhat happened in 2022?Hawthorn launched into its rebuild under Mitchell following the controversy surrounding the club’s messy coaching handover from four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson. The Hawks prioritised blooding youth and adopted a more attacking game style under Mitchell, unveiling eight debutants in 2022. The Hawks probably exceeded expectations in Mitchell’s first year in charge, finishing 13th with eight wins for the season. But it was the off-season where the real action happened. After senior players were shopped around during last year’s trade period without any result, this year the Hawks bid farewell to three experienced stars. Triple premiership forward Jack Gunston left to join the Brisbane Lions, 2018 Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell was snapped up by Collingwood and fellow midfielder Jaeger O’Meara headed west to join Fremantle. The Hawks welcomed former Port Adelaide wingman Karl Amon, emerging ruckman Lloyd Meek (Fremantle) and young midfielder Cooper Stephens (Geelong) in their place. The Hawks also bid farewell to their captain and ruckman Ben McEvoy and will usher in a new skipper for season 2023, with key defender James Sicily the favourite to take on the role.Where do they finish in 2023?If there were not high expectations on the Hawks for season 2022, then they could arguably be lower for 2023. After unloading three frontline stars in addition to the retirements of McEvoy and Liam Shiels, who has since reversed his decision and reunited with Clarkson at Arden St, the Hawks have kissed goodbye more than 1000 games of experience.It has left Luke Breust as the only over-30 player on the list, and the Hawks are set to field one of the youngest teams in the competition next year. While wingman Karl Amon is a handy acquisition, unless there is some dramatic improvement from some of the younger players on the list, it points to a potential bottom-four finish for the Hawks next year. Biggest improver in 2022The future of the Hawks’ forward-line, Mitch Lewis produced a career-best season in 2022. The 24-year-old kicked a career-high 37 goals to be named the club’s most improved player at its best-and-fairest awards night. Establishing himself as the team’s No. 1 key forward, Lewis bagged two five-goal hauls against Port Adelaide in round 2 and against Adelaide in round 17. He finished second in the club’s goal kicking behind veteran Luke Breust but could have been well out in front had he not missed seven games through injury. He averaged an elite 2.5 goals a game and his average marks (4.5) and goal accuracy (66.1 per cent) were also above average. After the departure of premiership forward Gunston to the Lions, the continued development trajectory of Lewis will be even more critical for the Hawks as they continue their rebuild under Mitchell. Lewis locked in his long-term future at the Hawks after signing a new four-year deal in June.X-factorChangkuoth Jiath was a defensive revelation in a breakout season in 2021 before it was cut short by a knee injury. Jiath’s athleticism and dash from the backline quickly made him a fan favourite and one of the most exciting emerging talents in the league. He backed up with 14 games in 2022, which was also hampered by injury with his season coming to an early end in round 20. Boasting speed and flair, the 23-year-old electric defender has the potential to break games apart for the Hawks but needs greater consistency in his game. After two injury-interrupted campaigns, Jiath can benefit from a big pre-season to help elevate his game again in 2023. Coach statusHeading into the second year of his tenure as senior coach, club bosses are unified in the four-time premiership player’s vision to rebuild the list from scratch. Mitchell showed he was tactically astute last season with victories over eventual premier Geelong and preliminary finalist Brisbane Lions in the first-half of the season, but his primary focus over the next two years will be player development and settling on the pieces he believes can turn the club into a premiership contender. Coming into the second year of his tenure as senior coach, Mitchell will be given the time he needs to bring his vision to fruition.Hawthorn best 23Who is in last year of contract?Chad Wingard, Connor MacDonald, Cooper Stephens, Dylan Moore, Emerson Jeka, Fergus Greene, Finn Maginness, Fionn O’Hara, Jacob Koschitzke, Jai Newcombe, Jai Serong, James Blanck, James Worpel, Jarman Impey, Josh Ward, Lachlan Bramble, Lloyd Meek, Max Lynch, Ned Long, Ned Reeves, Sam Butler, Tyler Brockman, Will Day.Outs from 2022Jaeger O’Meara (Fremantle), Tom Mitchell (Collingwood), Jack Gunston (Brisbane Lions), Ben McEvoy (retired), Liam Shiels (North Melbourne), Jackson Callow (delisted), Connor Downie (delisted), Daniel Howe (delisted), Tom Phillips (delisted), Kyle Hartigan (delisted)Ins for 2023 Trade: Lloyd Meek (Fremantle), Cooper Stephens (Geelong), Karl Amon (Port Adelaide)Draft: Cameron Mackenzie (pick 7), Joshua Weddle (pick 18), Henry Hustwaite (pick 37), Jack O’Sullivan (pick 46), Bailey MacDonald (pick 51), Josh Bennetts (Category B rookie)Hawthorn 2023 first six Watch every match of every round of the 2023 Toyota AFL Premiership Season LIVE on Kayo Sports. 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