When only one team conquers, the rest are left to fend for themselves. The followers of the vanquished congregate in a trade week limbo, pacing the fields whilst speculating on what is to be tended to or pruned – weeds extracted, prized picks yet to blossom tested on the market, hardy types relocated to different climates – all with a covetous eye on the plots of our neighbours, all with a vision to sow new hope.
Equally enthralling and frustrating, as the time between the commencement and the conclusion expands, the purgatory of uncertainty grows. The backroom machinations of list managers; the spruiking and posturing of clubs; the ever-present player managing wraiths; and the shadow of Mammon cloaking it all.
Throughout it all, the absence of those trade confirming heralds leads impatient masses to pace back and forth, churning the turf and fertilising the fields with broken F5 keys from zombified forum refreshing. Tis no doubt a fresh hell for those poor souls who are particularly afflicted with the drug of football and the lack thereof, driven half-mad by the silence.
What a strange time of year.
We enter the weekend with no resolution. With three players nominating our club as their destination of choice, but no ink jotted. Next week will no doubt be eventful as time elapses.
The Treloar deal is the crown jewel of our trade period, the impatience amongst the masses being fuelled by the belief that given Treloar had nominated our club well before the trade period commenced, the finer details would have already been sorted ahead of time. The rumoured price at the moment has settled on two first rounders – this year’s and next – with us receiving a second round choice in this year’s draft to even out the ledger somewhat.
The continued hold-up might suggest that we’re looking for a further sweetener: perhaps another fringe player added to the mix. You would think if the deal was as stated, it would have been signed off on already. This would also make sense when considering the players that we’ve already delisted and those who look to be sitting in the departure lounge in Freeman, Seedsman and Kennedy. By my quick calculations, even if we land all three of the players who have nominated us – Treloar, Aish and Howe – we will still have roughly 5 senior list spots to fill, or 4 if elevating Frost.
From all reports, the upcoming draft is one that most clubs don’t intend on plunging too deep into, so one might expect a reluctance on our part to fill those spots by way of the fourth or fifth round. Hine does have a good record of finding serviceable or better players later in the piece, but filling too many spots with youthful long shots could leave our list shallow.
It has also been recently reported by Emma Quayle – a more reliable source than most – that our deals are very likely to come in the form of intricate multi-club trades, which would explain the delay given the potential complexity of such moves. Whilst many have understandably feared that the hold-up on Treloar will erode our time on securing other targets, but it appears that the wheels have been turning, with Hine and Balme looking to wrap all three up in one swoop.
On Treloar, it is worth discussing the possibility of trading a future first round choice, given the inherent risk in doing so. Adam Treloar is clearly an exciting talent, made even more appealing due to the fact he is still very much in the infancy of his career, but the need to bring him to Collingwood is heightened furthermore on the back of two disappointing seasons. Two first round selections seems high, but it is a price that I imagine several clubs would have paid – Richmond already confirmed as much – had he nominated a different destination.
Paying up a future first rounder certainly ramps up the pressure on next season, particularly on Buckley. There’s no way the coach or the club can afford another poor season, let alone one that doesn’t come with the mild salve of a much prized early first round pick. I would have preferred if we could have secured Treloar using a future second rounder as a sweetener, but the deal needs to be done and I don’t mind making such an investment, if the club pushes into finals.
The balance sheet for such things requires a few years and retrospection to become clear. I remember this time last year when many felt we lost Beams for a handful of magic beans, yet a year later one of those beans has taken out third place in the Copeland trophy whilst another has shown enough to suggest he could be a force within the midfield in a few years.
It is hard though not to compare the price with the recent Dangerfield trade, but it is important to remember that the situation was different given his restricted free agency eligibility.
There’s also the fact that Adelaide could have no doubt dug their heels in further, but after an emotionally trying year appear to have wanted to avoid a further prolonging of a story that has carried on for two years. Geelong are the beneficiaries, but Adelaide still managed to get a little more back than they might have otherwise.
With Treloar, we could play hardball and even float the idea of him entering the national draft, where we would likely secure him with pick #7 alone. Although he warrants being selected by anyone within the top 6, clubs would be reluctant to grab a player with a high price or single year contract stipulation on his head who didn’t want to be there, rather than investing in a quality young talent with no strings attached.
However, Treloar seems to have a good head on his shoulders and wants to part GWS amicably, with them getting something in return. Our club, despite reportedly being frustrated with some elements at GWS during the negotiation, would also prefer to maintain a solid trading relationship with a club who we might look to deal with in the future.
So we’ll do what has to be done, with the knowledge that we’re getting a proven young talent, on the theory that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
I will say again though, parting with a first round pick ups the expectations on next year, which is something I welcome — as should the club.
I have spoken before about what the additions of Treloar and Aish could mean for our midfield, so I will hold off on exploring it further until the trade is done. The most recent bit of news that has come since the last time I posted however has been Jeremy Howe joining the line of players wanting to get on the Collingwood bus.
Howe is a difficult player to gauge in many respects, as he’s compiled a lengthy highlights reel with his aerial exploits, but at 25 years old is yet to put together a season that has made people take note of him for reasons other than his tendency to stand on people’s heads. The word is that we’re looking to make an Isaac Smith/Jack Gunston hybrid out of him and as logical as the desire is to have a player comparable to those within your team, such a concept it is easier said than done and probably shortchanges the overall attributes of those two Hawks.
Smith has a terrific tank and possesses line-breaking speed once he gets going; he bodylines the ball with wiry strength and can tuck an elbow and break tackles. Gunston is a remarkably smart forward with enviable conversion, who has the rare ability to read the unfolding play and the ball in flight as a forward when most find it easier to do so behind the ball. And then of course there is the dominant Hawthorn system itself, which brings the strengths of such players to the fore with devastating effect.
Bringing all that together in one player who is yet to put together a season comparable to either of those two is ambitious to say the least. There is also the concern that a mixture of roles might prevent him from settling into even one.
I have said before though that I would like to see us develop something of a Gunston type and as a link-up target and a further point of difference within our forward line, Howe could potentially bring a lot to our side at a price that is not unreasonable if he can produce. With Karnezis retiring, Howe can fill the void of what we hoped Patty might provide and if given a choice of utility types within our forward line, he is preferable to someone like Goldsack as an offensive option.
Before leaving you all to chew the cud further on the trade period, it is worth mentioning the pending departures of Seedsman, Freeman and Ben Kennedy — with Oxley’s status also up in the air at the moment.
I’ve been disappointed with the output and effort of Seedsman over the course of the year so the prospect of trading him out, despite being a fan of his early in the piece, is not one I’m opposed to. Freeman’s departure is disappointing given we’ve never had a chance to see what he could offer, but if we offset his departure with the arrival of Aish then we’re still not doing too bad from that draft class.
The fallout from their departures however is that we’ll need to look at adding some speed to our list once again, which at this point appears to be something that we’ll have to address in the draft.
Although many have questioned Oxley’s long term viability on the back of some of his poorer performances, in his better games he showed an ability to find plenty of the ball and use it fairly well. We do have comfortable depth in half-back flankers in Goldsack, Toovey, Langdon, Scharenberg and Maynard, so the loss of Oxley would be manageable. However, Toovey has struggled a bit in recent years and may be slowing down as he enters the latter stages of his career. Goldsack remains a jack of all trades, master of none type who had some pretty poor games defensively this year. The younger three have all shown plenty of promise to date and will likely form the core of our defensive unit in the longer term, but it’s always good to have competition for spots.
All that said, I sense that the situation with Oxley isn’t really in our hands. Brisbane would be keen on getting another homegrown type onto their list given their continued difficulties in player retention and with Oxley, they could do it cheaply via the pre-season draft, which is apparently what they are plotting to do. Oxley would likely be open to the prospect of less competition and further opportunity, along with what is quite possibly a more attractive contract offer.
As for Ben Kennedy, he has suffered from perpetually being the sub and just hasn’t found the tempo at senior football. His best position appears to be as an inside midfielder – an old fashioned rover – but it is hard to see him break into our team if we add Treloar to the mix. I’ve been patient and after watching him put his hand up week after week at VFL level, I was hopeful he would make the grade eventually, but his departure for increased opportunity is understandable and he won’t leave a gaping hole in our list in doing so.
If we can effectively turn Kennedy into Howe, it would be a good result for our list demographic.
And that’s how things sit as we enter the last week of the trade period, which is wrapping up on Thursday afternoon. Hine and Balme certainly have their work cut out for them as it’ll no doubt be a hectic few days, by the end of which we should be welcoming a few new faces to the club.