A Team-By-Team Summary of the 2017 AFL Trade Period

Which clubs “won” and “lost” over the trade and free agency period?

Over the last two weeks, but mostly yesterday, we’ve applied our “future expected value” approach to evaluating trades, looking at the balance  flowing in each direction.  Tomorrow we’ll run through a blow-by-blow summary of every deal in one post but for now, here’s the cumulative position of each club after the period.

The TL;DR Breakdown

Big Winners: Carlton, West Coast, Port Adelaide

Big Losers: Gold Coast, GWS, St Kilda (sort of).

Note: This post is part of a series of posts using a valuation method called Player Approximate Value (PAV) to evaluate trades for fairness and balance. Elsewhere, you can read much more about the method and theory behind PAV and also about PAPLEY, the projection method used to derive expected future PAVs. This method expresses both picks and players in terms of expected future value allowing them to be compared on this common basis.


Adelaide Summary

Adelaide moved a lot of pieces in and out over the period, with the big prize being Bryce Gibbs, who they probably paid a bit too much for, but who also might help them win a premiership. Elsewhere they got a freebie in Gibson while losing Cameron and Lever to the moves those players requested. The Crows balanced out their losses by upgrading their positions in both this year’s and next year’s drafts.

For 2018, the losses of Cameron and Lever aren’t quite offset by the arrival of Gibbs, and they may be slightly worse off as a result.


Brisbane Summary.JPG

The Lions have lost a bit of ground due to Rockliff’s departure and the sum effect of their various pick movements this year. Pick 18 was reasonable compensation for Rockliff, but in the immediate term they are likely to go backwards onfield as a result. Hodge came for nearly free, and should provide the anchor their backline desperately needs. With the Schache and Cameron trades and other pick swaps they haven’t suffered in terms of draft position, but might have hoped to improve that stance to compensate for losses of players.

Importantly, they have probably spread their picks optimally for Connor Ballenden to slips past 18 and be paid for with picks 40 and beyond.


Carlton Summary.JPG

Carlton cleaned up this trade period, waiting patiently for the right swaps to fall into their lap. They somehow “won” the Stringer trade with a lopsided pick swap, extracted overs for Gibbs and then secured Kennedy and Lang for value and Lobbe for free. The only real loss on field was Gibbs, but they got much needed best 22 talent as well. In all this, they also improved their draft position this year and probably next year.


Collingwood Summary.JPG

The Pies essentially dropped their second pick back a round (or more), in order to secure Murray, a player both Sydney and Collingwood must rate as able to contribute immediately for this deal to have been struck. The deal treats him as a worthwhile asset, not as a token punt on a rookie.

The Pies will be betting internally on a climb up the ladder reducing the distance they’ve dropped.


Essendon Summary.JPG

Essendon end up right were they started in terms of future value, but probably ahead when it comes to projecting the 2018 season. They got the three players they were targeting in Saad, Stringer and Smith, and the cost is all in pick terms. The balance looks right, although subjectively we question their prioritisation of outside players and forwards.



The Dockers came out slightly ahead a little this year. Balic and Crozier didn’t present as worth a lot but were traded for slightly lower than their true value. However, the big coups were landing pick 2 for Lachie Weller and Nathan Wilson with some spare parts that added up to less than he was worth. HPN thinks that with Weller’s good track record and youth he was probably worth pick 5, and the swap of 2 was therefore not too bad with the second rounder coming back the other way. Matera came back the other way for fair value.

Notably, Fremantle now don’t have a 2018 pick after round 1 until round 5.


Geelong Summary

Geelong probably don’t care about any aspect of this trade period other than the feelgood value of getting Ablett back. That pick shuffle valued Ablett fairly reasonably for the short career span he has left. Elsewhere, the basically-delisted Darcy Lang still went for fair value, and they traded current and future third rounders with Richmond in the year’s dullest move. Congratulations Richmond, you won yet another award in 2017.

The slightly overvalued compensation for Motlop (PAPLEY suggests he’s worth pick 28) probably helped Geelong break even this trade period, as without that pick they’d have had to dig deeper into their existing picks.

Gold Coast


The club who moved the largest volume of future value in and out slipped backwards slightly, but this was entirely due to a strange pick swap rather than their player moves, which were solid and actually made ground up overall.

That pick swap saw West Coast win big in a two-for-one value swap which essentially gave the Suns one future first rounder for four second rounders. This seemed a very strange move for a club with a bad list, to actively reduce by three its immediate shots at selecting new humans who can play football.

Nearly all their their 2017 picks moved in or out, but overall they downgraded their stance in this year’s draft in exchange for a bunch of future picks. Coming into the trade period with five picks in the first two rounds, they now only have pick 19.

Aaron Young was very cheap, the Suns were effectively paid to take Wigg, and Weller is an extremely valuable (local) asset they only overpaid for slightly. On the flip side, Ablett went for the minimal future value he’s worth, while Saad and Matera were fair value.


GWS Summary.JPG

GWS lost some ground this trade period, the cumulative effect of accepting reasonable discounts for all of Wilson, Smith, and Kennedy. Their net improvement in next year’s draft probably helps from an academy bidding perspective, but getting back into the first round this year is the thing they’ll tout. On field for 2018, you can’t help but feel that this trade period sent them backwards, maybe more than any other club.


Hawthorn Summary.JPG

Impey was a good get at fair value, while fans have nothing to complain about losing a retiree in Hodge for nearly nothing. Overall the Hawks didn’t do much for their weak draft position but the two moves were fine.



The Dees broke basically even, with the cheap pickup of Balic and Port’s very notional overpayment for Jack Watts both balancing the Lever swap which was excellently balanced for such a fraught and high profile move. All three moves were pretty even money, though, so there should be no real complaints to be made from the fans. We did note, however, that there’s a good chance Watts outperforms his projection based on historically similar projected players.

North Melbourne

North Summary.JPG

North gave up Sam Gibson for free when he’s worth very slightly more than that, while the pick trade they did involved four third-rounders. While a notional loss the outcome of the pick swap depends on the fortunes of West Coast, St Kilda and North next year. Moire importantly, it really just positions them a bit better for father-son and next generation academy bidding. Considering the state of their list, it was almost certainly the right move to stay quiet and build through the draft for at least one more year.

Port Adelaide


Many things happened with regard to Port Adelaide these last two weeks, and overall they’re well in the black in terms of future expected value, thanks entirely to the two free agents they secured balanced against the lost of Trengove. Elsewhere they broke even.

They notionally overpaid for Watts (with a big asterisk), while Young, Austin and Lobbe were variously cheap or free to their new owners. They ended up sending out a bunch of fringe talents (Impey and perhaps Austin excluded), while bringing in three firmly best 22 talents. These moves firmly declare Port as being in “win-now” mode; all they have to do is, um, actually win lots of games of footy.

Port’s late pick swaps achieved three things; vacated the early part of the 2017 draft; gave them several late dice-rolls in the 40s range and beyond and; secured two extra picks next for year’s supposed “superdraft”, in the second and third rounds



Richmond dabbled in some pick swaps and came out notionally ahead thanks to Brisbane placing a premium on getting pick 15.

The premiers will probably hope Patrick Naish slips past pick 25 to be paid for with late picks, but the swap means they’ll still get another live pick if he goes between 15 and 25.

St Kilda

St Kilda Summary.JPG

St Kilda appear to lose a little ground despite notionally underpaying for Austin. However the loss is in the form of late picks which the Saints probably didn’t intend to use – the pick swap with Port Adelaide reads as though Port wanted to use pick 63 and St Kilda didn’t. If so, that makes it essentially a 59 for 34 upgrade as far as the Saints were concerned, and makes the loss of value entirely academic.


Sydney Summary.JPG

Sydney’s only move was to trade the rookie-listed zero gamer Sam Murray and two late picks in exchange for a second rounder that depends on Collingwood’s fortunes. It’s a trade they notionally lose due to the sum of the expected value of the three low-value items traded. They won’t care, though.

West Coast

West Coast Summary.JPG

West Coast come out way ahead primarily as the beneficiaries of a baffling Gold Coast pick swap. A lot of social media focused on West Coast trading a first round pick in the “super draft”, but they got back four shots at second round picks in exchange including a likely early-round one next year. If the Eagles stay mid-table and the Suns near the bottom, the future pick exchange they did was only a ~10 spot downgrade, making the three 2017 picks almost free hits for the Eagles.

The Ah Chee trade was also probably in their favour.

Western Bulldogs


A lot of moving parts here saw the Dogs come out a little ahead of where they started in terms of future expected value. Trengove came for free and they lost a little ground elsewhere.

To start with, Crozier was a cheap get. Stringer earned the Dogs good returns which balanced the lopsided pick swap with Carlton that make it happen. They then notionally overpaid for Schache, but he’s a tricky one to value due to his young age and spotty output versus his high draft pick and promise.

Overall, the players they got in came at the cost of a reduced draft position. The Dogs finished with a lesser but higher presence in year’s draft with 9 and 16 likely their only live picks. Next year they’re down a future second round pick but up a third.

One comment

  1. This is a great example of a quantified trade analysis, probably the best I’ve seen. My comment is about the lower draft picks, and perhaps whether it’s possible to quantify the cost/benefit each club has by actually executing that pick on draft night, or choosing to pass. A few times it is revealed that the analysis fails to properly weigh up trades with low pick swaps, because it matters whether clubs intend to execute that pick on draft night, like in the St Kilda/Port Adelaide pick swap, or the Hodge trade. It is just seems to be admitted as a failure of the quantitative method used, without acknowledging any possible solution. Obviously low picks do have a small amount of average value, and I’m not contesting the method used to quantify that value, but there is also a quantifiable reason clubs don’t execute lower picks, and begin to pass on draft night, in spite of the picks containing real value. The reason is, to execute each draft pick, they have to delist a player. By the time it gets to the low picks, the next worst player that has to be delisted for that pick to be used might have more value to the team than the draft pick, so the pick is not used. My question would be, is it possible to factor in the value of the player that has to be delisted in order for a draft pick to be executed, or vice versa – the value of the worst player that must be retained in order for a draft pick not to be executed.

    Although this issue may seem small, ultimately delistings and retirements are a crucial part of list turnover that are often neglected when assessing whether a team has done well or done poorly in October.

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