WHEN Carlton decided to trade its first pick in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft last year to jump in and select Liam Stocker, it was a clear sign the Blues believed they would improve this season.
It hasn't happened, leading to the club sacking coach Brendon Bolton on Monday.
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But that trade will continue to be a talking point. Here's everything you need to know about a deal that will be likely spoken about for more than a decade.
What was the trade?
With live trading introduced to the draft for the first time last year, the Blues struck the historic deal by trading their future first-round draft pick at the 2019 draft to Adelaide in exchange for the Crows' pick 19 in the 2018 draft and their future first-round selection at the 2019 draft.
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In very simple terms, the Blues gave up one pick for the Crows' two picks.
What did they do with last year's selection?
The Blues made the trade for a simple reason – they wanted to draft Liam Stocker. The Sandringham Dragons midfielder had enjoyed a strong finish to his under-18 season, winning the Morrish Medal as the TAC Cup's best player.
They rated Stocker as the sixth-best player in the pool and wanted another midfielder to bring in alongside No.1 choice Sam Walsh, so when he slid down the draft board and was still available later in the first round, the deal was done.
Chris Judd with Liam Stocker at the 2019 NAB AFL Draft. Picture: AFL Photos
How did the trade nearly not happen?
If Port Adelaide hadn't chosen Xavier Duursma with pick 18, the choice before Adelaide's pick 19, then the Blues deal wouldn't have gone through. Instead, the Crows would have kept the selection and drafted Duursma.
The Blues had discussed a similar deal pre-draft with Greater Western Sydney, and St Kilda had also been linked in to the trade possibilities, but Carlton had identified Adelaide as being open to the deal if the cards fell a certain way.
Carlton had also previously offered the future first-round pick as part of a possible deal with Greater Western Sydney if Dylan Shiel had chosen the Blues as his preferred destination last trade period.
What was the reaction to the deal?
Rival clubs were surprised by Carlton's move. Most had Stocker pegged as a prospect in the latter part of the first round – which was his eventual draft position – and wouldn't have traded up to secure him.
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But Blues list manager Stephen Silvagni was confident about the deal when quizzed about it after the draft, asking reporters "What happens if we finish higher than them?" after discussion about the possible gap between the picks.
Adelaide list manager Justin Reid said the Crows, who had already used two first-round picks before the deal was made, were approached about the trade.
"In regards to our third pick, Carlton came to us in the last 24 hours and flagged the idea. Some will say it potentially comes with risk but it also potentially comes with reward, as is always the case," he said.
Adelaide list manager Justin Reid. Picture: AFL Photos
What do the numbers say?
Since 2015, there has been a points value associated with every draft selection up to pick No.73 under the AFL's draft value index. Using that as a guide, the Blues will have accrued more value from the deal if they finish 14th or higher in 2019 – regardless of where the Crows finish on the ladder.
Under a hypothetical, if Adelaide wins the premiership this season (which is the worst case for Carlton) the total of last year's pick No.19 and this year's pick No.18 is 1933 DVI points heading Carlton's way.
But if the Blues manage to lift themselves off the canvas and finish 14th, the pick they have sent the Crows would be worth 1878 DVI points – seeing them win the deal under the DVI.
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As it stands now, after 11 rounds, Carlton has sent 3000 draft points Adelaide's way and the Crows have parted with 2277 points, meaning the Crows are well ahead according to the numbers.
It means the Blues are 823 points in deficit, which is equivalent to pick No.23 in the DVI.
Who have they potentially missed out on?
There are two players in this year's draft pool who are considered standouts: Oakleigh Chargers pair Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. Recruiters view the midfield duo as well ahead from the next group of prospects.
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Rowell, a mad Carlton fan who trained with the Blues in the pre-season through the NAB AFL Academy, is a big-game player who excels at the clearances and has an explosive burst.
Anderson is taller than Rowell (189cm to 178cm) and has also enjoyed an excellent draft season, starring at NAB League level and also showing he can push forward and present as a target there.
Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell loom as the likely top two picks at this year's draft. Picture: AFL Photos
How is Stocker going and where is the Crows' pick?
The Blues are happy with Stocker's progress. He's played five games, generally across half-back, and shown some good signs with his hardness and ball use.
At Bolton's departing press conference on Monday, chief executive Cain Liddle and president Mark LoGiudice had to defend the trade decision and said Stocker was developing well.
The Crows are currently eighth on the ladder (pick 11), appearing off the pace of the leading premiership contenders but in the next pack of evenly placed sides.