The three biggest winners of the AFL trade period

Lachie Abbott Roar Rookie

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    31 trades, three free agents, 450 cups of coffee and 37 AFL House live crosses – the AFL trade period is over.

    Although all of these figures may not be accurate, it turns out that most rumoured trades surprisingly eventuated in what initially looked to be a relatively quiet year.

    According to the AFL website, 21 trades were made on the final day of talks, which is probably some sort of record.

    While some clubs floundered (hint: they are both from Queensland), thinking of the positive outcomes for a team is always more interesting, so here are the winners of the 2017 trade period.

    Essendon

    Ins: Jake Stringer, Devon Smith, Adam Saad, GWS’ 2018 second-round pick.
    Outs: Pick 11, pick 30, Essendon’s 2018 second-round pick, Essendon’s 2018 third-round pick.

    I must admit, that as an Essendon fan, I was petrified with the “aggressive” approach to trading that CEO Xavier Campbell touted before the trade period. Even more so considering Adrian Dodoro was at the helm, who is very good at not doing very much.

    However, despite the initial uncertainty, the Bombers managed to land a crop of proven talent for picks in a draft of low expectations. And they still have a decent pick in this draft!

    Forced onto the outer by the strength of the GWS midfield, Devon Smith still averaged 19 touches a game in 2017 as a forward with a midseason injury forcing him to start his year all over again in Round 15.

    Although inaccurate in front of goal, Smith is still a potent force in the attacking half of the ground with a rare combination of fiery annoyance and tamed skill with the ability to ease into a midfield role.

    Adam Saad is also a very explosive player from defence and has the talent of actually making a Gold Coast game interesting, ranking first in the league in total bounces.

    Pairing him with Irishman Conor McKenna ensures there will be at least one exhilarating run from defence each game, exploiting some of the low pressuring teams in the competition.

    Plus, Andrew McGrath can now move into the midfield and continue his development.

    Finally, Jake ‘The Package’ Stringer pairs up with Orazio Fantasia to form some sort of BT love child inside 50.

    Seemingly not reaching the heights of his 2015 All-Australian season for some time, Stringer is still a 23-year old potent force up forward, recording 1.5 goals per game with elite score involvement numbers.

    Within a good situation at Essendon and an improved fitness level over summer as touted by coach John Worsfold, Stringer could easily return to his best.

    Adrian Dodoro Essendon Bombers AFL

    (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Carlton and SOS

    Ins: Matthew Kennedy, Darcy Lang, Matthew Lobbe, pick 10, pick 30, pick 73, Bulldogs’ 2018 second-round pick, Adelaide’s 2018 second-round pick, Geelong’s 2018 second-round pick.

    Outs: Bryce Gibbs, pick 40, pick 58, pick 95, Carlton’s 2018 second-round pick, Carlton’s 2018 third-round pick, Carlton’s 2018 fourth-round pick.

    Stephen Silvagni is the Sam Hinke of the AFL. Although lacking a star recruit, the accumulation of essential midfield youth continues at Carlton.

    While the Bryce Gibbs deal still has value for Adelaide in their premiership window, Carlton are nowhere near that stage of competitiveness and giving up a stalwart like Gibbs-although hard in the short term is a no-brainer.

    At the age of 29, Gibbs was not going to be around by the time Carlton were playing finals again, and so holding out for two first-round picks for the versatile midfielder was a masterstroke by the list management team.

    Turning pick 96 into ruckman Matthew Lobbe is another dirt cheap pick up for the Blues. The 92-game ruckman can provide cover for Matthew Kreuzer, and although the Lobbe’s salary of $500,000 is a burden on Carlton, his contract will be gone by the end of 2019.

    Much like the “No Interest, No Repayments until 2019” Harvey Norman ads, this seems a long time away, but realistically it’s not.

    The Darcy Lang deal is another steal for the Blues, picking up a former first round pick for essentially pick 58. While hidden amongst the midfield talent of Geelong, more on-ball opportunities at Carlton could turn Lang into a very decent player.

    There most certainly have been flashes of potential, including a 24-disposal, six-tackle game against the Swans in a semi-final at the MCG.

    Youngster Matthew Kennedy also joined for pick 28 in this year’s weak draft in yet another fleecing.

    After years of losing the trade period… Carlton actually won.

    Bryce Gibbs Adelaide Crows AFL

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    Port Adelaide

    Ins: Tom Rockliff, Steven Motlop, Jack Watts, pick 46, pick 59, pick 62, pick 63, pick 95, St Kilda’s 2018 second-round pick, North Melbourne’s 2018 third-round pick.

    Outs: Jackson Trengove, Jarman Impey, Brendon Ah Chee, Aaron Young, Logan Austin, Matthew Lobbe, pick 31, Port Adelaide’s 2018 fourth-round pick.

    The Power were out of the blocks quickly, snapping up Tom Rockliff last week as a free agent for a reported wage of $650,000 a season, adding unbelievably high clearance numbers to an already powerful midfield without any direct asset loss.

    While losing Jarman Impey to Hawthorn is disappointing, Steven Motlop is an amazing replacement and overall better player to add some much needed polish to the territorial Port Adelaide game, despite his inconsistencies.

    Speaking of polish, Jack Watts kicking into the forward 50 is ranked 2nd in the competition over the last two seasons, per The Drill Podcast. Such elite talent away from his tortured existence at the Demons for only pick 31 is an absolute steal and addresses Port’s inefficiencies of last season, in which they were ranked 3rd in clangers per game.

    Given the investments made in free agent signings, departures were inevitable for Port Adelaide to allow for cap space. While the Lobbe trade seemed a steal for Carlton, it is ultimately a win-win for both sides as Port are relieved of his contract and can use the salary cap more effectively.

    Losing both Jackson Trengove and young back Logan Austin hurts their depth and puts more pressure on the likes of Tom Clurey and Dougal Howard. Although it must be said that the club certainly believes in their young defence judging by the youthful backline Ken Hinkley selected for their 2017 elimination final against a strong West Coast forward structure.

    Both Aaron Young and Brendon Ah Chee showed flashes, however with the lack of game time now available at Port, a fresh start was in the best interests of both players and the club (which sounds a lot like a media release now I read it back…).