HPN will attack this AFL Trade Period in one post a day, either as a roundup or with progressive updates through the day.
It’s likely that a rapid cavalcade of interlinked deals drops any time on Tuesday or Wednesday to close out the final two days of the trade period. Today, though, saw three more ostensibly standalone deals.
Of note on Monday was probably as close to a blockbuster trade as we will see in 2023.
Lachie Schultz’s prime position
The way the player movement period is billed is that it sees the fortunes and futures of clubs shift seemingly overnight, with a cavalcade of high profile stars changing clubs. Some of the game’s greatest players – Dangerfield, Ablett, Franklin, Judd – have been headliners in the trade and free agency period. Some years are rich with game-altering moves.
This year, however, is decidedly more quiet.
In fact Lachie Schultz might be the best current player to move clubs. For casual fans east of the Nullarbor that claim might be met with mild surprise, especially considering the focus placed on the race for McKay. That’s not to mention the excellent past performances of Brodie Grundy and Taylor Adams.
But players who are broadly in the All Australian mix who are in their prime don’t move clubs every day. Both the actual selectors, and HPN@ABC had Schultz in the broader discussions for a spot in the best team of the year.
He is one of the premium small forwards in the game and was a key contributor in the often indifferent Freo forward setup. He finished second among goalkickers at the Dockers last year. While a step behind the likes of Cameron, Greene and Papley in scoring power there aren’t many others who shade him in the small forward stakes.
It’s not just his attacking ability that is important for the Dockers. So much of football is about effort without the ball, and Schultz’s defensive efforts and ability to follow system are fantastic. He was right near the top for tackles inside 50 this year, putting pressure on whenever the ball hit the deck. His sense of space and ability to play a role in the Freo system stood out, even if there wasn’t always much else to see.
Fremantle would not have wanted to lose Lachie Schultz, but the destination isn’t an obvious one either.
At Collingwood, the fit looms as more competitive and complicated than it might have at many other clubs. In fact it might have been one of the worst fits on paper for his particular skillset as demonstrated last year.
His Fremantle role involved often playing as a deep focal point, forcing opposition defences into mismatches and tough decisions. It’s a similar role to the one often played by the 31 year old Jamie Elliot, who was also broadly in the AA conversation. Both Schultz and Elliot have played other roles in the past, but less effectively. Collingwood’s attacking system is extremely role based, especially in transition. There may not be the easiest opportunity to integrate both in their best roles.
While not on the same level as, say, trying to play two All Australian level workhorse rucks in the same side, it is an issue still. On their form last year Schultz might be the slightly more talented player right now, but Elliot has the benefit of knowing the Collingwood system (and being a beloved Pies lifer). It will be interesting to see how McRae and co try to make it work.
There is likely to be a best 22 place on offer with Taylor Adams leaving for Sydney, Elliot entering the twilight of his career, and Jack Ginnivan drifting in and out of the team. That higher half forward runner role isn’t exactly Schultz’s bread and butter based on last year, but he should be able to pull it off.
There are other potential avenues to add Schultz in, but the fit will require some shuffling within the Pies’ well oiled system. Generally, a bet on talent is always a decent one.
Earlier, HPN suggested pick 16 was the equivalent projected value of Schultz, who turns 27 next year should keep up his output for perhaps half a decade. The trade started from the Pies future first, near that position, and added a pick 34, a handy premium for Fremantle who at least get back draft position for a player they wanted to keep.
If Collingwood slide, the trade becomes quite Fremantle-friendly. Even if it doesn’t, the Dockers now hold the future first round picks of themselves, Collingwood and Port Adelaide, a decent haul to attack next year’s trade period and National Draft.
Vedict: Trade somewhat favours Fremantle.
Bigoa Nyuon (likely) becomes North Melbourne depth
Having played just one game at Richmond (last year in round 9), the former Brisbane Lions Academy graduate and speculative Tigers 2019 draft pick Bigoa Nyuon has nothing to recommend him in terms of output.
Positionally he’s probably more a key defender than anything after coming through the junior system as an undersized ruck. Nyuon, aged 22, has essentially been recruited off his VFL form over the last couple of years and his athletic promise.
Along long-delisted free agent Toby Pink, Nyuon represents new defensive backup at a club desperately needing it. Griffin Logue tore his ACL in July last year and Ben McKay left the club in Free Agency, leaving the Roos relying a lot on Aidan Corr and Kallan Dawson. Beyond those two, there’s not a lot.
In this context, there’s a solid chance Pink and/or Nyuon will see game time next year and get a real chance to claim a regular AFL spot at their second clubs.
This trade sends North’s seventh draft pick to become Richmond’s third, at a time when North already have five top 20 picks and may only have three open list spots pending further delistings or pick trades. There’s a chance Richmond use the pick to take a speculative flier in a short draft, or possibly as part of greasing the wheels of a complicated Koschitzke trade.
Trade verdict: Theoretically unfair to trade anything at all, but the pick does not matter to North anyway.
Liam Henry joins the Fremantle wing exodus
Liam Henry follows the now well worn path of the Fremantle winger – back east. Having lost Brad Hill and Ed Langdon after 2019, and Blake Acres after 2022, they’re now seeing Liam Henry head to Victoria as well.
Henry has shown some form since joining the Dockers as a NGA player with pick 9 in that 2019 draft immediately after losing Langdon and Hill. Last year Henry managed a 16 game season, playing his most consistent footy to date. A notable increase in time on ground suggesting he’s built up his endurance to play the role over earlier years.
Henry’s best footy is very impressive, able to break through lines with speed and find targets with ease. There’s probably still some work to do with his ability to hit those instinctive areas that a good fat side winger needs to nail down, and his ability to run defensively and impact play. Those sort of things often take time to work out, and the signs for improvement were certainly there.
There’s probably a slight question as to his best long term role as well. Freo also tried him up forward – something the Saints may do to change their inside 50 mix.
The Dockers will now return to the well to fill the outside mids, probably adopting a commitee approach again next year. James Aish (who came from Victoria the same year Hill and Langdon left) and Nathan O’Driscoll are the main names you’ll hear but options like Johnson, Chapman and Frederick (amongst others) will also have a look in. Fremantle often struggled to get transition ball happening with any sort of inside 50 threat, and will likely have to keep experimenting to find what works.
The guts of the swap is Henry for a future second, a swap which is fairly reasonable for the promise but not certainty provided by a player with Henry’s track record. The swap of future fourths could almost be interpreted as designed to even out the trade in valuation systems such as AFL draft points or that used by HPN.
Verdict: Fair swap.
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 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.