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Bumper Edition: 27 Trade Period talking points

Peter Bell was one of the key players in this year's Trade Period - AFL,Trade
Peter Bell was one of the key players in this year's Trade Period

TEN DAYS of NAB AFL Trade Period drama are over – add an extra three days if you include free agency – but AFL.com.au has looked back and picked out some of the biggest talking points. 

We have all bases covered, from the touted eight-club mega-deal to Adrian Dodoro's head shaking and even Tom Scully's Hawthorn medical and related trade value. In honour of Scully's age and in no particular order, here are 27 talking points from the past fortnight.

1. Doin' the Eagle ruck

Nic Naitanui's season-ending knee injury in July was the start of West Coast's ruck saga, followed by Scott Lycett's decision to exercise his restricted free agency rights. Lycett left the Eagles' premiership celebrations to complete his medical at Alberton and will become Port Adelaide's No.1 ruckman once Paddy Ryder retires. West Coast briefly entertained matching Lycett's lucrative five-year deal. Ruckmen Jordan Roughead and Tom Hickey toured the Eagles' facilities and the premiers weighed up both – at one stage the interest in Roughead was supposedly as a key defender – before going with the Saint. Hickey's manager was unavailable, so the 201cm giant filled out the trade paperwork himself.

2. Shake it, shake it

Journalists are curious beasts and we would have loved to be inside the room as Essendon and Greater Western Sydney thrashed out the Dylan Shiel deal in the dying minutes. But we got a pretty good idea of the heat in negotiations when Dodoro emerged shaking his head and keeping as much distance as possible from Giants list manager Jason McCartney. On a related note, what would the fallout have been at Tullamarine if the Shiel deal fell over?

 

3. Carlton serenades Shiel 

The Blues pulled out all stops to try to lure in-demand ex-Giant Dylan Shiel, including flying him and agent to the stars, Paul Connors, to Noosa on a private jet. The whispers suggest the courting was well stocked with champagne and Carlton presented Shiel with a Navy Blue jumper and a bottle of Grange. It wasn't enough, with the 2017 All Australian choosing the Bombers over the Blues, Hawks and Saints.

4. The medical from hell

The Hawks planned to part with a first-round draft selection for Tom Scully before a medical examination on the 2009 No.1 pick's damaged right ankle changed the course of negotiations. Suddenly, Scully – twice nominated for All Australian selection – was in brown and gold for the not-so-princely sum of a future fourth-round pick. There were calls for an AFL investigation, but that seems unlikely. The relentless midfielder may yet return to his best, but there is doubt about that and his value subsequently plummeted, on top of the Giants' need to shed salary and his want to go to Hawthorn and nowhere else.

INSIDE STORY Why Scully became a Hawk steal

5. Giant fire sale

The gravity of Greater Western Sydney's salary cap headache became better known the longer the NAB AFL Trade Period went. The Giants shed about $2 million on next year's wages by the time they offloaded Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully, Rory Lobb and Will Setterfield. Contracted pair Jeremy Finlayson and Jon Patton also came up as trade possibilities, but will remain at the club. More tough times are on the horizon, with the likes of Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio, Nick Haynes, Adam Tomlinson and Harry Himmelberg out of contract in 2019.

COMMENT Did the Giant exodus shut their window?

6. Shock swap

Ryan Burton finished fourth in Hawthorn's best and fairest and was runner-up in the NAB AFL Rising Star award in 2017. His follow-up season wasn't as good and he slid to 18th in the Peter Crimmins Medal voting, but he still had the currency necessary to broker the Chad Wingard deal with Port Adelaide. Burton was in Las Vegas when he found out from his manager, Marty Pask, that he might be headed home to South Australia. He reportedly took some time to come to terms with the news, but underwent a medical while overseas and will now play for the team he grew up supporting. Hawks fans are still devastated. 

 

7. The travails of picks six and 68

Fremantle's No.6 draft pick went on quite the journey throughout the NAB AFL Trade Period. It was firstly shipped to Port Adelaide, made its way to Brisbane, then went back to the Dockers, who traded it to Melbourne, which forwarded the selection onto Gold Coast. The story was similar for North Melbourne's old No.68. The Roos sent it to the Suns, who gave it to the Crows, who on-traded it to Richmond.

8. Triple threats

Tom Scully, Tom Hickey, Jack Hombsch, Anthony Miles, Jared Polec and Dom Tyson all joined a relatively rare group when they found their way to a third club each in the NAB AFL Trade Period. Melbourne selected Scully with the first pick in the 2009 draft before he left for the Giants in 2011 and now Waverley Park is his new home. West Coast recruit Hickey began his AFL journey at Gold Coast and was most recently a Saint, while Hombsch's arrival at the Suns follows his time at Greater Western Sydney and Port Adelaide. Ex-Tiger Miles, who started his career at GWS, joins Hombsch at the Suns where they will become the first two players to play for both expansion clubs. Polec spent three years with Brisbane and then five at the Power before unpacking his bags again at North Melbourne, with Tyson joining him at Arden Street after time with the Giants and the Demons.

9. Melbourne's leading goalkicker

Nathan Jones is a lot of things to the Demons, but he regained another title with Jesse Hogan and his 152 goals departing for Fremantle. The co-captain's 130 majors for the club are the most among active Melbourne footballers, from small forward Jeff Garlett's 129. Sam Day (74) has the honour at Gold Coast since Tom Lynch and Aaron Hall departed in the past fortnight. Other unlikely goalkicking leaders at their club are Carlton's Marc Murphy (173), Collingwood's Scott Pendlebury (166) and Brisbane's Dayne Zorko (161).

10. The Giants' "lovely" lunch

The media's increasing obsession with the theatre of NAB AFL Trade Period meant there were reporters parked outside AFL House for its duration. Every club was in town and their staff regularly dined at Docklands eateries. Greater Western Sydney was involved in many of the biggest deals, so its list manager, Jason McCartney, was a man in demand. The former Magpie, Crow and Roo provided one of the lighter moments, when AFL.com.au's Mitch Cleary, having drawn blanks from earlier questions, fired one last one asking about his lunch. "It was a lovely lunch – thanks, Mitch." 

11. Loose lips Cripps

Port Adelaide list manager Jason Cripps spoke out loud when he mentioned how "happy" his team would be to try to snatch Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine off Gold Coast in two years if the Suns draft them. The media latched onto the comments and Cripps apologised to his Gold Coast counterpart Craig Cameron about the fallout. Does this incident put the Crows in pole position to barter with the Suns about moving up in the draft to secure the prime South Australian talent? Cripps also spilled the beans on the Ryan Burton negotiations, revealing that Hawthorn – and not the Power – raised the 21-year-old defender's name in talks.

12. Public Lynch-ing

The biggest prize of this year's free agency class was one-time Gold Coast co-captain Tom Lynch. He was long expected to depart the Suns, and the process was expedited when a knee injury ended his season in round 14. Lynch's operation then much of his recovery was in Melbourne, so he and his management booked a series of meetings in that time. We found out Nathan Buckley personally met Lynch, while Pies list boss Ned Guy jumped the fence to escape media at the key forward's family property at Blairgowrie. The race for his signature came down to Richmond, Collingwood and Hawthorn, but the Tigers were considered a hot favourite a fair way out – a status eventually made official

13. The domino effect

Lachie Neale, Jesse Hogan and Steven May will be forever aligned for their reliance on one another to find new destinations. It took until the final day of the NAB AFL Trade Period for the first domino (Neale from Freo to Brisbane) to fall before Hogan (Melbourne to Dockers) and May (Gold Coast to Demons) followed in quick succession. It all centered around the Lions' top pick, which unlocked all three deals. 

14. The (almost) daily drama

Other than Moratorium Monday and a quiet weekend, this year's NAB AFL Trade Period provided bang for its buck on nearly a daily basis. The 10-day length looks set to stay, with AFL boss Gillon McLachlan comfortable with it and the week between the Grand Final ending and the Trade Period starting. 

15. Pulling the pin

Most predicted it was a bluff when new Fremantle footy boss Peter Bell, he of the "feather in my cap" quote, announced five days out from the deadline that it would no longer pursue Jesse Hogan. The reason was apparently because of the Demons' want for dual first-round picks in return. They eventually resumed negotiations and the Dockers relinquished a first and a second-round selection for Hogan and a fourth-rounder. Was it always going to end that way, or did Bell pull off his first big move?

 

16. The mega-deal

There was still plenty to do entering Deadline Day and talk among clubs suggested an eight-team "mega deal" might be on the cards, involving Fremantle, Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Collingwood, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney. It didn't eventuate that way, but the key players mentioned – Lachie Neale, Jesse Hogan, Steven May, Chad Wingard, Dayne Beams, Rory Lobb and Ryan Burton – still found new homes.

17. Against the spirit?

The AFL's decision to give strugglers Gold Coast and Carlton access to mature-age talent – rather than a priority pick – before the draft went in an interesting direction. The Suns used all three of their selections. But the Blues traded their two to different clubs, including helping Shane McAdam land at Adelaide in the deal that delivered Mitch McGovern to Ikon Park. The other clubs were disgruntled that Carlton was able to use the assistant package that way, given the point was to provide immediate help for Brendon Bolton's side rather than be a trade chip. 

18. Delaying deals?

AFL.com.au went live from the trade coalface for the last three-and-a-half hours until deadline and that offered a chance for conspiracy theorists to go to work. The suggestion was the AFL's head honchos would get in club decision-makers' ears and instruct them to hold back on the big deals for primetime. The flurry of activity on the penultimate day was the first blow to that theory. Then the Chad Wingard-Ryan Burton trade went down the following morning and Lachie Neale, Jesse Hogan, Steven May and Rory Lobb found new clubs in a 40-minute window long before coverage started. Even then, the same people will tell you the Dylan Shiel deal was staged-managed. Sigh.

19. Worse situation?

Braydon Preuss' befuddling decision to request a trade to Melbourne and play behind 26-year-old Max Gawn rather than 30-year-old Todd Goldstein raised eyebrows. It came despite Preuss saying how "pissed off" he was to not play at AFL level in 2018. Could the bullocking big man play alongside Gawn? Our understanding is the Demons recruited him purely as a back-up at this stage. 

20. Fall from grace

They say a new car loses 10 per cent of its value as soon as it's driven off the lot. But how do you explain Jack Scrimshaw's tumble from the No.7 choice in the 2016 draft to being swapped (along with a future fourth-round selection) for just a future third-round pick two years later? The 20-year-old is a supreme talent, but those who know say he has other areas to work on to fulfill his potential.

21. The 'Demon' is in the detail

Melbourne football boss Josh Mahoney fronted the NAB AFL Trade Radio inquisition on the second day of the exchange period. His refreshing honesty was a welcome change. So much information filters into the public realm these days, but even in that climate some clubs refuse to acknowledge what is often accurate intel in the media. In particular, Mahoney offered insight into Jesse Hogan's thinking and explained why soon-to-be recruit Steven May would help the Dees "balance their list overall". It was a fascinating listen without him spilling in-house secrets.

 

22. It ain't Gaff-ening

Andrew Gaff's decision to remain an Eagle was one of the NAB AFL Trade Period's big wins. The dual All Australian was arguably putting together a career-best campaign until he uncharacteristically whacked Andrew Brayshaw off the ball in a season-ending decision in round 20. Many pundits thought the longer Gaff waited to announce his call, the better it was for keenest suitor North Melbourne. Instead, he followed fellow exceptions to the rule in Travis Cloke and Will Minson (both 2012) and Matthew Kreuzer (2015) in waiting extremely late or until post-season to commit to their existing club.

23. How long?

The rumour mill goes into overdrive during the NAB AFL Trade Period and there were some stories that didn't quite hit the mark. Among them was the reporting of Jesse Hogan wanting an eight-year deal (he eventually signed with Freo for three seasons), Kieran Lovell and Tim O'Brien conducting mythical medicals at Port Adelaide, and that Essendon was out of the race for Dylan Shiel, who, of course, became a Bomber.

24. Going public

AFL Players' Association chief executive Paul Marsh told NAB AFL Trade Radio he was OK with players' wages being made public. The footballers themselves remain vehemently opposed to it. Regardless of your stance, the fact AFL clubs often don't release even how many years a new player has signed for shows how far away we are from that being a reality.

25. How homesick are you?

Tim Kelly and Dayne Beams both requested interstate moves on compassionate grounds – with wildly different results – but what was intriguing was they were only interested in one club. Kelly shunned the Dockers and had eyes only for the Eagles, while Beams was adamant going home to Victoria had to see him in black and white. It wasn't quite the same, but ex-Giant Tom Scully rejected rival interest to nominate Hawthorn.

26. What's in a number?

The Hawks' active trading means they are again going to enter the draft late at this stage. Their first pick is No.53, which will definitely go lower once father-son and academy bids are factored in. But if somehow that ends up being Hawthorn's selection, the brown-and-gold faithful should be confident of scoring a good player based off history. The two most prolific No.53 picks in terms of games are Michael Braun (228) and Lindsay Thomas (212), who were drafted in 1996 and 2006, respectively.

THE LAST 11 PICK 53s
2017: Ryley Stoddart (Sydney)
2016: Jack Graham (Richmond)
2015: Jack Silvagni (Carlton)
2014: Oscar McDonald (Melbourne)
2013: Passed (Sydney)
2012: Martin Gleeson (Essendon)
2011: Alex Woodward (Hawthorn)
2010: Tom McDonald (Melbourne)
2009: Brayden Norris (Richmond)
2008: Michael Walters (Fremantle)
2007: Kyle Cheney (Melbourne)

27. Hulking presence

Football powerbrokers need every advantage possible to get one over their rival club counterparts. Brisbane's general manager of football, David Noble, oversaw a pretty impressive NAB AFL Trade Period for his Lions and, perhaps, having the Hulk in his corner – or at least on his mobile phone cover – made him a more intimidating negotiator.