I have made the comment last year that I am not much of a fan of free agency in the AFL system. This most recent trade period has done little to change my opinion. Admittedly there were less high-profile free agency moves, but the spectre of free agency still distorts the trade period, making it about as unfairly weighted as the Australian tax system.
A lot of deals went through this trade period (thankfully the deal to weaken gun control in return for David Leyjonhelm supporting Coalition legislation was not one of them- that is a deal in which everyone loses). A number of teams including GWS, St Kilda, Fremantle, Melbourne and West Coat all look to have made some improvements.
I am not sure I am ready to agree with those suggesting the Saints should play finals in 2017 but they will get better. It isn’t enough to just get better though- you have to overtake those above you on the ladder, and North seem the only finalist likely to fall far, while several other mid-table teams like Melbourne could be pushing hard so the fight for the finals could be as bitter as the fighting between Abbott and Turnbull.
I won’t argue with the noise and expectation around GWS though. If you add Brett Deledio to a team that should still be improving based on their age profile. I might even put a sneaky 5 on them at some point throughout the season (gamble responsibly y’all), but I’ll wait until another team looks to be on a hot streak and the Giants’ odds improve).
I was actually surprised by the Cats, who at one point were poised to acquire Deledio’s services only to baulk at trading Josh Caddy- and then end up trading him for a middle range pick anyway. That seemed puzzling, but I would still expect them to be strong next year.
The Hawthorn experiment brings a new meaning to the Prime Minister’s call to be agile and innovative. It will be interesting to see if it pays off, as the PM himself has shown that those words are no guarantee of success. I actually think Vickery is a better player than he is given credit for, but haven’t made my mind up about Tom Mitchell, although admittedly he was brilliant in the grand final. Jaeger O’Meara is another risk after barely playing for the last two years, but if he is anywhere near as good as people believe he could be, then he could be an integral part of Hawthorn’s team for the next decade. Still giving up Mitchell and Lewis for little has given Melbourne and West Coast a leg up and could hurt the Hawks in the next year or two.
The trade period is about taking risks. Some come off spectacularly such as Tom Boyd in the grand final and some are disastrous (hello Brendan Fevola). The only way to find out if the risk was a good one is when you look back in hindsight. It promises to be another interesting season.