Some players grow and evolve into better players when they pull on the colours of a new club.
Since his move to Essendon, Adam Saad has improved his standing as a footballer, tallying career best output in most of the indicators you’d want from a dashing halfback.
In short, he continued to improve rather than stagnate, even while at an Essendon team which has found the going tougher and more frustrating than they’d have anticipated in the last couple of seasons.
Carlton are making a bet that Saad can potentially improve again at a new club, and go from a fringe All Australian contender to being among the very best at his role. That last little leap is harder than the first one.
The question for Essendon now is whether to move towards rebuilding over the longer term, or retooling over the short term to stay in finals contention.
Together with other losses of players (notably the astute but low key replacement of Daniher by Peter Wright), Essendon’s retooling has shrunk and the picks they’re accruing amount to quite a good draft hand.
In defence, with McKenna and Saad departing as two prime moving small defenders, the onus will be on finding real, ready made replacements. Last year, Essendon periodically threw an extra player at the stoppages, exposing their defence while trying to attack. With a newer defensive set up down back, this may be off the table next year.
Saad gives Carlton exactly what he already gave Essendon, a fast rebounding defender who is also adept at locking down opposition forward. An often overstated part of the rebounding defender is that their attacking value outweighs their defensive – but Saad provides both in spades. This likely frees up the newly recruited Williams for the mooted move to more of a midfield role.
Saad’s rising stocks are reflected in a rising Player Approximate Value (PAV) in the last couple of years, and that means his projected outlook has improved.
Saad has been traded for more than three years ago because he’s become a better player. Three years ago, essentially Gold Coast swapped a promising mature age rookie draftee for a second round selection.
This time, Essendon are losing a star against their will and Carlton are adding another piece to a promising puzzle. Pick 8 alone would have been fair, the extra pick going back sweetens things for Carlton without costing a pick-stacked Essendon too much.
Verdict: Reasonably fair trade, pick 8 on its own was not far off the projections.
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 PAV. Expressing 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.