Mitch Hannan goes where he’s needed

Melbourne’s evolving forward setup looks to have pushed Mitch Hannan out of the picture.

The space for Melbourne’s mid-sized forward options is shrinking, and even in that role, Bailey Fritsch is direct competition for Hannan. Instead, Hannan heads to the Bulldogs where there’s a clearer need for his type.

The question is one of who Melbourne fits into their preferred forward line, and how it’s structured by role.

The reported addition of Ben Brown adds a primary target the Dees have been missing. Add to that emergence of Sam Weideman, and there’s clearly a reduced need for ersatz targets in the form of either raw developing rucks (Jackson), converted defenders (McDonald), journeymen (Brown) or medium forwards (Fritsch and Hannan).

At the other end of the size scale, Petracca’s forward role looms as a dangerous weapon, while support small forwards like Pickett, Spargo, Melksham and Hunt also need space. That’s a lot of players to sort into one forward structure, and Hannan looks like one of the casualties, squeezed from all sides.

A player being squeezed out for role and structure reasons can usually find a home at a less stacked club, and so it goes for Hannan at the Dogs.

The Bulldogs made do in 2020, as they have done for several years, but their last three leading goalkickers have been Billy Gowers, Sam Lloyd and Mitch Wallis.

Hannan has a pair of 20 goal seasons in his past, and if he can provide that for the Dogs, it may unlock more avenues to goal elsewhere. Hannan is also surprisingly good in the air, but probably can’t be used as a focal point inside 50.

Josh Bruce and Aaron Naughton are decent enough talls and the Dogs would back Jamarra Ugle-Hagan to help in that area in the future. However, they don’t have a “change of size” option to circulate around the forward line, and help cause mismatches and open things up for everyone else.

Hannan can defend help lock the ball in better than taller players, while he’s got a higher ceiling as a goalkicker than many of the small forward and pinch hitting midfielder types the Bulldogs have rotated through.

The trade brings the Dees move slightly back into next year’s draft, where currently they hold only three picks in the first four rounds – their own 1st, the Bulldogs’ 3rd, and the Lions’ 4th.

Verdict: Unfair trade – the Dees do well for what is to them a marginal player.

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. Readers can explore these values with tools such as 5-year player value projection charts and a Salary Prediction tool as well as the HPN Trade Calculator to evaluate potential trades.

Elsewhere, read much more about the method and theory behind PAVExpressing the value of players and picks in terms of expected future PAV provides a common currency for comparing them in trades and other movements. Players are projected using PAPLEY, a method to derive expected future PAVs.

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