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The Trade Week Ladder

“Hair of the Dog” is the phrase given to the practice of drinking more alcohol to postpone an impending or very present hangover; and there’s no Hair of the Dog like the AFL Trade week for those in the midst of some serious footy withdrawals.  Everyone believes that you’d be hard pressed to find a more interesting trade period in the game’s history, but does everyone know who they think came out on top?

I’ve given it a crack and presented a comprehensive (and completely subjective) ladder of all 18 clubs based on their trade week performance.  In honour of the AFL trying to make the trade period more exciting for the fans, we’ll go all show-biz and start at the bottom.

I apologise in advance for this highly contentious list. 

18.  Sydney

What a bizarre thing to write.  I’m so used to Sydney excelling at everything.  Very early on it seemed that old Buddy-Ban wounds were being opened up for Sydney and its chairman Andrew Pridham in response to Tigers landing Lynch.  Now, I agree that retrospectively, the club was completely mistreated by the AFL at that stage (having acquired Buddy perfectly legally); but I can only assume they spent the rest of the week too busy licking those wounds to get any decent return out of the trade period.

They gave away their first pick (13) for a significantly improved middle section in the draft.  Good on them.  But in doing so they lost Hannebery, Newman and Rohan.  The players they got to replace them? … Ryan Clarke and Jackson Thurlow … I guess I’ll just move on. 

17.  GWS

So I guess the Giants are just in a rebuild now?

I understand that they had salary cap issues but that’s a lot of players to move on for just a better draft hand.  Surely they could have at least tried for a better deal.  You can’t tell me that Scully could not have gone elsewhere for more. 

In = 9, 11, 19 & next year picks

Out = Lobb, Scully, Setterfield, Shiel

I hope Kelly wants to play as the Ruck and also every midfielder next year. 

16.  Port Adelaide

Polec moving to North Melbourne was very much overshadowed by Gaff not moving to North Melbourne, but that’s a big loss for the Power.  Port seemed to have North’s pick 11 guaranteed but they threw in Pittard anyway as well as a slight draft improvement.  I guess you could say that Pittard wasn’t making much of an impact in the side, nor was Homsche; and Wingard wasn’t at his best; but to lose them all is a massive change.  Kochie has obviously taken some list management tips from the cash cow because these giveaways are RIDICULOUS!

On the flip side, They landed Lycett through Free Agency.  They got Burton for Wingard and they dramatically improved their draft hand in an SA dominated draft. 

I’d probably lean towards calling the above a victory if it didn’t look and smell so much like a rebuild.  That’s a lot of young talent to bring in the year after bringing in Motlop, Watts and Rockliff.  Do we think we’re in a premiership window or not, Port?

It’s a ‘No’ from me. 

15.  Collingwood

So, they’ve improved their draft hand for priority picks; good.  They’ve added Jordon Roughead and lost Fasolo; a win? I guess. Just. 

But the Beams deal.  Do I think any team should be giving up the first pick of the next two drafts for Dayne Beams?  No.  He’s shown a lot but he’s publicly battled with personal issues that have clearly had an affect on his game and it’s a huge risk to take him.  Furthermore, do I think that Collingwood with it’s STACKED midfield and clear lacking on either end of the ground is comfortably the last team that needs Dayne Beams?  Yes. 

Why they didn’t throw all that at May is beyond me. 

(For what it’s worth, I hope Beams can turn it all around and have a good year in 2019, but I’m skeptical). 

14.  Adelaide

Lost McGovern and some late picks.  Gained Tyson Sengle and Shane McAdam and pick 13.

Effectively they’ve swapped McGovern for 13, which I’d probably call a win but what are they doing with those picks?  There’s been nothing but bad vibes coming of out Adelaide all year and if I was a Crows supporter I would have been begging for something exciting to happen in the trade period.  Anything to re-energise the team.  There are so many holes to fill.  There’s a very strong draft coming up that is littered with South Australian talent.  They currently have 8, 13, 16 & 21 in the early part of the upcoming draft which is what they wanted, but Rankine is probably not falling that low and Lukosius definitely isn’t.  They’ve got to do something crazy on draft night and dangling a few of those picks in front of Carlton for pick 1 would certainly fit the bill. 

This would qualify as the sort of bold, crazy play that I think the Crows need, but until I see it, I’m calling this a fail.  A boring fail.  Add it to the rest of their year. 

13.  Western Bulldogs

Admittedly, most of my issues stem from the position they were in before the trade week so I can’t put them last; but can anyone tell me who’s playing in the Dogs forward line next year? 

The Dogs lost Adams, Dahlhaus and Roughead in the process of gaining Sam Lloyd, Taylor Duryea and a marginally better draft hand.  Not the worst trade period but certainly a team that probably needed to be a bit more active. 

7, 27, 32, 45, 63, 75 & 82 is a lot of spending money at this years draft.  I hope they use it wisely. 

12.  West Coast

I get the feeling that Andrew Gaff’s recommitment had the Eagles breathing a sigh of relief so hard that they were reluctant to do much else.  And a quiet trade period is not necessarily a bad trade period, especially for the premiers.  However, I don’t consider Gaff staying a relevant point from a “Trade Win” perspective, they didn’t get the Kelly deal done and what they did get done was a loss. 

They traded in Hickey to replace Lycett leaving through Free Agency.  I’d call that a loss, but not a huge one. 

11.  Geelong.

The Most mediocre trade period.  What they gained, they also lost. 

Horlin-Smith has been a famously good clubman but hasn’t produced the goods on the field. 

Rowan, Krueger and Dahlhaus are hardly guaranteed performers but can add a bit of spark to the side.

But they had to get a deal done for Kelly.  The only thing worse that a player asking to leave is a player asking to leave and then having to say.  The Cats have been riding the “go home” bandwagon harder than any other club but as soon as it’s working against them, they crumble.  Pathetic.  This was the only deal that couldn’t get done and I think it’s put Kelly and Geelong in a really awkward position for 2019.  Then again, if they can put all this behind them, he can provide some greatness in their midfield for at least another year. 

10.  Essendon

Oh the controversy! 

They got their man and they needed to.  Shiel should make a huge improvement to the Dons midfield next year, but let’s not forget that a star-studded midfield doesn’t always win you games.  Have we forgotten how we all bent the knee to the perceived might of Geelong’s 2018 midfield?  How’d that go? 

I recognise that the situation is a bit different because Shiel defends a lot more than Ablett and Devon Smith is already tackling more than Danger-wood-let combined, but the point remains.  I could be totally wrong - he could be the thing that sets them on a premiership path, but I’d argue that they were already strongly heading in that direction and the first picks of the next two drafts is a lot to give up. 

It’s not as bad as Collingwood but I definitely don’t think it’s perfect.

On top of all that, they gave away Colyer for peanuts.  Why?

9.  Gold Coast.

The Suns have actually done far better than I expected. 

I’d argue that Lynch has been out the door for over 12 months and due to his attitude, they couldn’t keep May.  Kolodjashnij, Hall and Scrimshaw are also a loss but the key takeaway is that they didn’t let the rest of the comp bully a steal-deal out of them. 

They’ve gotten rid of an extremely toxic leadership situation and are going into the draft with 2, 3, 6, 24, 29 & 80.  Good on ‘em! 

Of course, they have now lost every decent player at the club though so it’s a very “everything’s relative” sort of victory. 

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8.  Brisbane

I’m very firm of the belief that 9/10 times, as soon as a player wants to leave, it’s in your best interests to let them go.  Brisbane could not keep Beams after all this mess.  By all accounts it seems that Fagan has given Beams a big cuddle and the two parties can happily go their separate ways.  The Lions scored Collingwood's first picks in the next two drafts, which is perfect for such a young, exciting club, building a strong culture and playing group. 

The Lions were able to push Lachie Neale and Lincoln McCarthy into their midfield and have Marcus Adams down back to let Harris Andrews roam free. 

Overall, the Lions have definitely come out better off. 

7.  St Kilda

Traded out a wildly underperforming ruckman in Hickey and slightly improved their draft hand.  More importantly, they got Dean Kent and Hannebery for basically nothing.  A club in St Kilda’s position has to take some list risks, you would think, especially having consistently dropped the ball at the draft table for the last 5 years.  I’m not the biggest Hannebery fan but if he can get back any of his old form then this trade will be a massive coup for the Sainters. 

6.  Hawthorn

They’ve certainly been bold this trade period, I’ll give them that. 

The Hawks have brought in Chad Wingard from Port, Tom Scully from GWS and Jack Scrimshaw from Gold Coast.  Scrimshaw has a lot of potential, especially at a new club and we’ve also seen what Wingard is capable of when at his best.  One would have to think that for Hawks to land Scully with a pick that low, his ankles must be made of mince these days but I’m certain other clubs would have given up more for Scully so you can’t deny that acquisition as a major win. 

I like all three inclusions for Hawthorn but what I don’t like is what they gave up to get them. 

Giving up Taylor Duryea is fine but Burton is a genuine young gun.  Not only has his club let him go, it was Hawthorn that initiated the player movement and pushed him out.  That doesn’t sit well with me one bit.  They also massively compromised their draft hand this year. 

Many would agree that Hawks over-achieved this season but this strategy suggest they're all in for 2019, and I’m not so sure that’s entirely the right move, long term. 

5.  Richmond

They got their man and they cleared the salary cap space to make it happen.  It was a successful week for the Tigers. 

I have a conspiracy theory. 

So, Tigers knew to fit in Lynch they’d need to have a clearance sale.  They’d have to get rid of a lot of depth players and they couldn’t afford to be prudish with what they got in return.  And that’s what happened,  Conca, Ellis, Lloyd, Miles & Stengle, all moved to other clubs for peanuts. 

The first of those 5 to get moved on were Ellis and Miles who were given away, basically for free to Gold Coast.  With Lynch set to choose from at least three attractive options, do you think someone at Tigerland had a quiet word to Lynch, suggesting that if he picks them, they'll look after the club he’s leaving?  I like this idea and who knows, Ellis and Miles are quality operators and combined with the AFL compensated pick 3, maybe leaving will be the best thing Lynch has done for the Suns for years. 

Whether or not the above is true, it’s still been a pretty good week for the Tigers but they're certainly taken a lot of depth of their list.  Will injuries catch up with them? 

4.  Carlton

Setterfield, McGovern, Fasolo.  The Blues started the trade period strongly. 

They were clever with their shopping and got some great complimentary talent without giving away pick 1 or next years first round pick (also pick 1?  Maybe not).  What they did give up was a lot of middle draft picks but i think they were completely justified. 

Then in the last 10 minutes of the Trade week they reminded Sydney of they were going to happily ship of Nic Newman to North earlier in the week and secured him for themselves for a future fourth rounder.  This is a perfect play for a young talented player who fits perfectly in the Carlton backline to sit of the opposite side as Marchbank and provide outlets for Simmo and Docherty. 

Well done Carlton, I’m excited to see what they do on draft night. 

3.  North Melbourne

A hell of a lot was made early of Norths failure to lure another ‘Big Fish’ in Andrew Gaff, but as with all the others, the player didn’t go to any other club instead and North didn’t lose anything to ask.  And besides Gaff, North accomplished exactly what they wanted from the week. 

They desperately wanted outside run and carry and they landed Hall and Polec,

They wanted more use of halfback to replace the outgoing Ryan Clark and whilsts they were initially looking at Newman or possibly Finlayson, they basically got Pittard for free in the Polec deal. 

They did all the above by pushing draft selections around but still ending up with plenty enough points to snag their Academy prospects, Tarryn Thomas and Bailey Scott. 

Pruess was always going to leave and I seriously question whether landing a fringe inside mid in Dom Tyson was the way to go but he does have a lot of promise. 

The only other thing I question is whether they've overloaded with middle-tier talent, especially in the backline.  There’s a lot of interesting decisions for Brad Scott next year and some of their list movements lately could prove to clash with each other. 

2.  Melbourne


What a trade week. 

I’ll work my way up to the big ones.

Firstly, I have no idea why Braden Pruess decided to leave the shadow Of Todd Goldstein for the shadow of Max Gawn when there are clearly plenty of clubs desperate for someone to be their number 1 ruck.  However, Dees landing this ruck cover for Gawn by just giving up a player in Tyson, struggling to get a game, is a huge win for them. 

Kent out is no huge loss and helped the club keep some draft presence

Hogan out is the right move for the club.  He’s a young star who isn’t working out perfectly.  I highly rate the move to trade him out while he’s still hot.  And he wanted out, so he’s out.  But to effectively land May and Kolodjashnij for him is a huge win for Melbourne. 

What a fantastic week.    They’ve made perfect, complimentary changes. 

1.  Fremantle


Like many others, I had Freo written off after they pulled back their interest in Hogan and were so damn stubborn in giving away Neale.  I assumed it was classic Docker incompetence rather than shrewd strategy.  Sure, maybe they pissed off some other clubs but why not in their position? Better to be a villain than a laughing stock. 

They Lost Neale, which is a big out because he can win the ball like only a few in the comp but they have some elite youngsters to step up and take his place in Cerra, Brayshaw and Banfield.

On the flip side they brought in the INCREDIBLY COMPLIMENTARY Hogan, Lobb, Conca and Colyer!  And they only slightly compromised their draft hand. 

Tim Kelly decided to only nominate West Coast as a WA club for his “go home” yearnings.  I reckon he’s made a grave mistake there but kudos to Fremantle for not letting that distinct lack of ‘Destination’ label stop them from going big at the trade table.

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