Kent Austin and his player personnel department have spent several months preparing for the 2013 Ottawa REDBLACKS Expansion Draft.
Austin’s main focus, in making the final decision on his team’s protection list, was developing a scenario where Hamilton would be able to remain as competitive as possible going forward, no matter who the REDBLACKS pick from the Ticats roster.
|Mock Protection List|
On the other side, he’s come to terms with the fact that Ottawa is going to get some high quality football players from his team
Over the last few years the Black and Gold have drafted diligently and used free agency to build a strong corps of Canadians – non-import talent is so vital to success in the CFL.
Hamilton’s group of Canadian content is deep. Andy Fantuz, Sam Giguere, Greg Wojt, Marwan Hage, Peter Dyakowski, Brian Bulcke and Courtney Stephen were the Ticats’ entrenched Canuck starters by the end of the 2013 season.
Not to mention the young stable of Canadians currently on the roster who have shown lots of potential such as Neil King, Frederic Plesius, Hasan Hazime, Shomari Williams, Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, Marc Antione-Fortin, Michael Atkinson, Carl-Olivier Prime, John Delahunt, Joel Reinders and Carson Rockhill, to name a few.
Just some short years ago it was tough to come up with even a handful of non-import names that looked like mainstays in Steeltown.
Hamilton’s Canadian depth didn’t happen by accident. The organization put an emphasis on strengthening their non-import group, and Head Canadian Scout Drew Allemang has had a lot to do with it.
Because of Allemang and the collective effort to put a stronger focus on securing better Canadians, the Ticats are well positioned to make do with the loss of two non-import players from the Expansion Draft.
Don’t forget Hamilton still holds the rights to their first two selections in the 2013 CFL Draft. Linden Gaydosh is on the Carolina Panthers injured reserve list and Brent Urban returned to the University of Virginia for his final season of NCAA eligibility.
Of course Austin doesn’t want to lose any of his players, but he understands why and believes it’s a good thing to have Ottawa back in the league. He also knows the REDBLACKS need to have the opportunity to be competitive as early as possible.
“We just don’t want that to hurt our competitiveness, and that’s the challenge when you’re trying to piece this together,” Austin said.
“You have to try to protect as best you can and try to anticipate, but we’re trying to limit the damage as much as possible.”
At most the Ticats, like any other team across the country, can only lose three players, one import and two non-imports in the three-round Expansion Draft. Each franchise was allowed to protect 17 players total: 10 imports, six non-imports and one quarterback.
Austin believes his team is in a solid position, with the depth of their entire roster, to deal with the casualties Ottawa will inflict.
After all it’s a necessary evil every CFL team had to prepare for. With his protection list submitted Austin has no more control and has to wait, like the rest of us, to see just how it all plays out come Monday.
It’s kind of like waiting for Christmas morning to see what Santa has left under the tree. Only Ottawa will be playing more the role of the Grinch than a big, jolly, white-bearded man to the rest of the league.