The Power were the heroes of trade period 2017. The Crows were undoubtedly the villains, but regardless of their methods, both sets of supporters should be proud of the result.
Port Adelaide delivered a powerful performance to their supporters. With all due respect to the talent departing Alberton, they cleared a lot of deadwood from their ever-so-close-to-elite list. It wasn’t cheap deadwood either, with the salary holes left by the likes of Jackson Trengove and Matthew Lobbe facilitating successful offers to free agents Tom Rockliff and Steven Motlop.
They were aggressive, but they were also the nice guys. They could afford to be the nice guys. They acted with the least of fuss, happily sending off those who wanted out and filling those holes with talent that may well put them in premiership contention in 2018. They just got deals done.
They’re not flawless inclusions. Questions remain over the impact of Rockliff’s disposals, but you can’t help but be curious as to what he could do as part of a more well-rounded team, particularly up forward, while despite their persistent inconsistency, Watts and Motlop add much-needed outside class. The only criticism you could have is that they haven’t left themselves in a terrific draft position, with their first selection in the upcoming national draft coming at 46.
Across town, Adelaide was one of the major players of the period, and not entirely by choice. Justin Reid and co. took a strong, coy stance at every turn, refusing to succumb to the pressure and waiting for the deals they needed to turn losses into wins, after the two major trade requests of Lever and Cameron left them with an imposing task.
Getting the Lever deal done early was huge. It was a messy situation that threatened to go deep into the final day. The Crows won their first tick of the period by not only getting it done a week before the deadline, but doing it in style, with two Melbourne first round picks making their way across in return for the departing young gun. The common consensus was that the Demons paid overs - I’m not so sure, but just getting fair value for an out-of-contract player is an achievement, while doing it so quickly is impressive.
Minor deals saw the opportunity-starved Harrison Wigg replaced by the more experienced Sam Gibson. While many were disappointed to see the left-footer head to the Gold Coast without even debuting for the Crows, the incoming pick 39 should prove to be a useful placement in the guts of the upcoming national draft, while Gibson comes in at no real trade cost and a more realistic chance of finding a role in the Crows’ 22.
Thursday morning came, and there was still doubt over whether deals for Bryce Gibbs and Charlie Cameron would get done, after some concerning communication issues between Adelaide and Carlton were reported the night before. Sweet relief came early in the day when the complex Gibbs deal was made official. The initial reaction to this deal was quite hysterical. While the increasingly infamous headline-grabber Kane Cornes was ever so eager to smash the Crows, other media figures were quick to point out the supposed backflip from the club’s 2017 stance on Gibbs’ value, and many Crows fans were outraged as soon as they spotted those two first-rounders pop up on the trade tracker.
A closer analysis is all it takes to realise the value of this deal. Let’s examine this more closely. Below is what the swap of 2017 and future picks looks like if the draft order remains the same in twelve months’ time.
10 → Gibbs
16 → 22
37 → 40
73 → 77
Disregard the 77/73 swap entirely, as a four-pick gap that late is unlikely to make a difference to the player of choice. If you rate the 2018 draft highly - and with many with a close eye on the crop calling it a superdraft, you should - that future 2nd rounder may be just as valuable as Adelaide’s pick 16 this year. Unless things change dramatically and Carlton has a great season, their future third-rounder shouldn't be too far off Adelaide’s future second either.
Ignore the “two first rounders” hysteria. The Crows gave up pick 10 and not much else for an A-grade midfielder who has just completed arguably the best season of his career and is showing no signs of slowing down just yet. Tick.
Finally, after the club was widely laughed at for their supposedly ridiculous demands for the Brisbane-bound Charlie Cameron, they got that done too. In response to the reported requests for pick 1 and Dayne Zorko, just remember, Fremantle (somehow) managed to snag pick 2 for second-year runner Lachie Weller. Sometimes it’s worth asking the question. Ultimately, the Crows took a minor hit to their 2018 prospects by losing their preliminary final hero, but pick 12 is almost certainly overs, and fans should be both proud of this deal and optimistic about the talent that selection could bring into the club.
It was an emotional September for South Australian footy fans, and while things threatened to get worse at West Lakes in the week following the Grand Final, it’s most definitely time to get excited again.
Image Sources: The AFL update and The Adelaide Football Club Facebook