The AFL trade period continues to grow every year. The growth comes by way of players moving, draft picks moving and an increasing media coverage of what is considered a key off season event.
Even with all that coverage though, stories remain untold. Here are seven of them.
1. Geelong’s dangerous path
For the past three seasons Geelong have spoken about the state of their list and the imbalance that existed .
Geelong’s dynasty was built around a veteran core, leaving the next generation of Cats missing in action.
Work has been done over the past three seasons to compliment the two players considered at the peak of their footballing careers in Tom Hawkins and Joel Selwood. That was particularly noticeable this year with four players being brought to the club in that considered prime footballing age of 23-28.
Yet the great irony is to make this happen, they have taken themselves out of this draft. They are precariously placed to being underrepresented in the next one too.
Getting a player of Patrick Dangerfield’s quality to the club seems beneficial in the short term, but the real questions for Geelong is how they avoid a repeat of lessons past to keep a balanced list.
It doesn’t mean much now, but in 2021 and 2022 Geelong may be looking at their list and wondering how they ended up with this empty space in a key age demographic.
Also while on Geelong, take a real good look at the ins and outs. They may be veterans but losing Steve Johnson, James Kelly, Matthew Stokes and Jared Rivers all mean finding regulars to be replaced.
So far 12 players have gone out, with only four upgrades coming in and no pick in the top 65 to really compliment the loss in depth. There will be an interesting few seasons coming up for Geelong.
2. Carlton won’t be judged by this trade period
The Blues are probably the most polarising club from the trade period.
Really though, it is all about the draft for Carlton and to get too bogged down in who came in and who went out at the club is redundant.
With picks 1, 8, 11 and 19, you get the feeling that new Carlton coach Brendan Bolton is going to hope his club can nail a draft like his former club did back in 2004.
Hawthorn’s decade of success has deep roots in the 2004 and 2001 draft classes, with the quartet of Jarryd Roughead, Lance Franklin, Jordan Lewis and Tom Murphy from 2004 crucial across their four recent premiership wins. It was key position players that made the difference for Hawthorn on that occasion and with Jacob Weitering a lock at pick one and Aaron Francis and Sam Weideman potentially to be available with pick 8; this is where Carlton’s hopes lie.
It is a unique list that Carlton will likely have going into 2016 and could very well be a list that shocks people.
3. Fremantle’s attempts for Cam McCarthy were laughable
It was a factor that wasn’t really considered a the time, but when GWS caved on former number one pick Tom Boyd it sent a nasty message out that contracts didn’t matter to this club.
It was a dangerous precedent to send to trade out a highly regarded young prospect who still had years to run and therefore it wasn’t a surprise that Fremantle went after Cam McCarthy.
But what was apparent this year is that GWS were not going to fall for the same mistake.
Fremantle should have recognised the history and backed off earlier than they did. Instead they gave false hope to their fans for a week and a half and were left with nothing to sell when there was no contingency plan in place.
This year West Coast and North Melbourne both recognised that they would need to overpay to get the rights to Jack Redden and Jed Anderson.
4. Craving draft picks is like an addiction
Gold Coast and GWS were offered the most generous package of draft picks at their inception. It therefore can only be assumed that once you have a taste for accumulating draft picks it is hard to say no.
While the need for picks to access academy players likely played some role, it cannot be a coincidence that both Gold Coast and GWS are continuing to be teams that treat picks so highly.
Go back to their first seasons and the thought of Zac Smith, Harley Bennell, Charlie Dixon, Tom Bugg and Adam Treloar being traded was inconceivable, the assumption always was that the talent would stay and the depth would go deep.
5. Hawthorn’s dodged bullet
A week ago Hawthorn appeared the shock front runner to acquire the services of Jake Carlisle. Imagine now if Carlisle had agreed and Essendon and Hawthorn had completed a deal last weekend before St Kilda found a way to work Essendon’s desired asset of pick 5.
6. Where the activity came from
For the most part it was top eight teams that were quiet, making the odd targeted deal but the real wheeling and dealing came from teams outside the eight.
Geelong, Collingwood, Melbourne, Gold Coast and GWS seemed to be involved in every second deal in a clear message that they are keen to make a move towards finals in 2016.
7. Eleven days is the perfect window
They have experimented with shorter trade period windows and longer trade period windows, but the revision over the past few seasons to arrive at the current format is perfect.
There was enough action over the first week to keep the average fan involved and enough speculation to keep the footy tragic guessing.
It has taken some time to perfect, but the grand final comedown, into the draft combine, into trade period, into the fixture release and finally into the draft now seamlessly allows the AFL to dominate media coverage all the way through October and November.