AFTER two years of stoutly defending Ryan Schoenmakers and its troublesome defence, Hawthorn has moved to shore up its backline by recruiting Brian Lake.
Hawthorn yesterday secured the two-time All-Australian full-back from the Western Bulldogs for the Hawks' first two picks in the national draft - selections 21 and 41.
The Hawks will get Lake and the Bulldogs' second-round pick - selection 27 - as part of the deal.
Effectively, Hawthorn gets Lake for pick 41 while sliding six places in the draft, which may not seem to be extravagant compensation to the Bulldogs for a player of Lake's ability.
But he is 30 and would be a free agent at the end of next season so he could have been lost to the Bulldogs for minimal compensation then.
The Hawks' salary cap will be tight, but Chance Bateman and Cameron Bruce have retired meaning their money comes out of the cap. They also have Stephen Gilham out of contract so it seem unlikely that the tall defender would now be offered a deal with Lake coming.
Clinton Young is a restricted free agent who is yet to decide whether to remain at the Hawks, where he has been offered a new contract. Tom Murphy is also out of contract.
The Hawks had some interest in recruiting free agent Jared Rivers, but the Lake deal has overtaken that.
The Western Bulldogs have made their plans to rebuild very clear by moving on the talented veteran in exchange for the hope and promise of teenagers. As it stands, the Bulldogs will have three first-round picks in the national draft - five, six and 21.
The Bulldogs had explored an option of trading their first two draft picks as part of a deal with Greater Western Sydney for a 17-year-old in the mini-draft, but that deal floundered when GWS would not also return them a draft pick inside the top 10.
''The accumulation of six picks inside 50 presents the opportunity the likes of which this club has not seen before to recruit the core list around which we will build the future of this football club,'' Bulldogs list manager Jason McCartney said.
''In an increasingly competitive environment, our future success is contingent on what we do today and given the stage Brian's career is at - we see this as a very good proposition for the club.''
The Bulldogs remain interested in Collingwood forward Chris Dawes, having met with the forward in recent days to present their case for a move to Whitten Oval.
Dawes, who is contracted for two more years to the Magpies, has yet to decide whether he wants to move. He is understood to be considering offers from three clubs - the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and Carlton. When and if Dawes nominated a club, it would then be up to Collingwood to negotiate a suitable trade. He is still a chance to remain at Collingwood.
The move of Lake after 197 games at the Dogs adds depth and versatility to the Hawks.
''Brian is a fantastic addition to our list, and will complement our defensive unit extremely well,'' Hawthorn football manager Mark Evans said. ''His experience will be highly valuable to our group of relatively young defenders and he will add greatly to our side's depth.''