It is during trade week that fans hold their breath, nervously watching their club’s progress, in hope of securing solutions for their problems without the price of losing anyone integral.

2012 was no exception, although fans needed to hold their breath a little longer, with the week extended to a 26-day timeframe known as the Gillette Trade Period.

As with every year, some teams left smiling, whilst others counted their losses and began to look to the National Draft or had a neutral trade experience. Here is how your team weighed up:


Winners

Brisbane – The Lions received Stefan Martin from the Demons for a third and fourth-round pick in the National Draft. With the Lions being ranked 16th in hitouts per game in 2012, Martin is a great pickup and only a small price to pay, as he can eliminate the void in the ruck department Brisbane was desperate to fill. Brisbane also acquired Brent Moloney and lost no players through trade.

Collingwood – The Magpies emerged as clear winners, nabbing West Coast’s Quinten Lynch as a handy helper to Travis Cloke, as well as securing Clinton Young and Jordan Russell. They also gained two first-round draft picks, bringing their first-round total to three in the National Draft, something that is extremely beneficial with the vast talent pool in 2012. By waving goodbye to Sharrod Wellingham and Chris Dawes, the Pies were able to alleviate some of their salary cap pressure.

Essendon – The fact that the Bombers were able to secure high-profile St Kilda player Brendon Goddard early in the trade period sings much of their success. Goddard was rumoured to have a lot of interest from a variety of clubs, although Essendon was able to successfully lure the free agent. His inclusion and versatility as a player will add a new dynamic through the midfield and improve Essendon’s ball use.

Geelong – The Cats had a very successful trade period, as they were able to add young gun Josh Caddy, ruckman Hamish McIntosh and Demon Jared Rivers onto their list. Geelong put its Ablett compensation pick to good, using it to lure Caddy to the club. The Cats did lose Shannon Byrnes and two selections in the National Draft, although with the calibre of these additions, this shouldn’t be too damaging.

Greater Western Sydney – The Giants had a ‘spring clean’ of their list, although in the process secured picks one, two and three in the National Draft, a very dangerous prospect. For a team that is still in the early stages of development, these picks will go a long way to building a successful future. The inclusion of defender Stephen Gilham from Hawthorn is also beneficial, as it injects an experienced player into the emerging team.

Hawthorn – Much like Essendon, the Hawks were successful during trade period due to their ability to target and secure 30-year-old Brian Lake from Hawthorn and Matt Spangher from Sydney. There was some movement in their list, although none was detrimental. They also managed to lose their first-round draft pick in the process, although did receive some young talent through their pick-up of Northern Territory selection Jed Anderson.

Melbourne – The Demons had a very active trade period and came out winners in the end. They obtained some much-needed forwards in free agent Shannon Byrnes and 24-year-old Chris Dawes from Collingwood, which was also beneficial for inserting some experienced players into the club. With the addition of David Rodan from Port Adelaide and ejection of Cale Morton, it is clear that Melbourne is shifting from a developing stage to focusing on winning games of football.

Richmond – Like Melbourne, Richmond also had an active trade period. They managed to meet the agendas that they set, acquiring free agents Troy Chaplin and Chris Knights, as well as forward Aaron Edwards from North Melbourne, and didn’t lose any detrimental picks or players in the process. These inclusions will only enhance the Tigers’ current list further, and they are well and truly heading in the right direction for 2013.

West Coast – There were some big changes in the Eagles camp, although they still left as winners. They lost Quinten Lynch to Collingwood early, although this is a loss that can be easily covered by the likes of Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy, amongst others. Sharrod Wellingham, however, is a massive inclusion, and combined with Jamie Cripps from St Kilda and Demon Cale Morton, it is clear that West Coast are beginning to reshape their distressed midfield.

The ‘whipping boys’ – In this trade period, we saw many of the club ‘whipping boys’ offered a second chance at a new club. This includes Carlton’s Jordan Russell, Melbourne’s Cale Morton and Collingwood’s Chris Dawes. These players are being provided with a fresh start to prove themselves by making their mark on a new club. They will be given opportunities at their new clubs, which their old clubs couldn’t or wouldn’t offer to them.

AFL – The AFL are also winners from the new and improved trade period for a variety of reasons, the main one being the increased presence of AFL in the off-season. AFL is still getting high exposure despite the conclusion of the premiership season, still dominating sports bulletins and creating a large buzz. The AFL has disallowed fans from forgetting about their beloved sport with the extension of the period.


Losers 

Adelaide – If the initial prospect of losing Kurt Tippett wasn’t bad enough, the situation only got worse when Adelaide was found out for having a third-party agreement with Tippett that breached that salary cap. Essentially they will receive no compensation for their highest-paid player. Consequently, all trade deals were called off and Adelaide may face tougher sanctions that impact their involvement in the National Draft, a very unfavourable penalty.

Sydney – Usually renowned for their presence during trade week, the premiers were losers during this trade period, as they didn’t receive any new players and were relatively non-existent throughout the 26 days. They did chase Kurt Tippett and looked very likely to sign him, however, with the crisis that emerged from Adelaide, this deal did not eventuate. Despite this not being the fault of Sydney, the Swans are still losers from the situation, only leaving with a couple of new picks and a few names less on their list.

AFL fans – Yes, AFL fans love to hear about football and love all things related to football. They love turning on the radio and hearing football discussion, and many enjoy trade period as it looks to the future. What they do not enjoy, however, is being bombarded with trade rumours and gossip for 26 days straight. For that reason alone, trade period should be minimised. The 26-day period could have been cut down considerably and the same results would have eventuated.

Integrity of the AFL – Just when the AFL thought that salary cap woes were in the past, after setting a precedence in dealing with Carlton in 2002, it was discovered that Adelaide had a third-party agreement with Kurt Tippett. This opens up a variety of issues for the AFL, as it reveals that the new system isn’t working as well as they suspected it to. It also creates the question of which other clubs, if any, are also engaging in the same conduct.

Unsigned players – As with every year, there are always players who do not have their wishes heard and are not signed at a new club. In 2012, this includes the likes of Josh Toy, Ben Jacobs and Kurt Tippett amongst many others. These players will now try their luck in the National Draft, in the hope that someone will give them a second chance. This has been beneficial in the past for players such as Luke Ball, although unfortunately, not all of the players will have their wishes heard.


Neutral

There are many teams who could not be considered either winners or losers from trade period in 2012. This could be due to their large inactivity, the route Carlton took, the fact that they both gained and lost players like Fremantle, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, or because the immediate benefits of the new inclusions cannot be measured in developing teams such as Gold Coast and Port Adelaide.\

Then there are teams like the Saints who, despite losing a key player in Brendon Goddard, will find some benefits with his loss such as salary cap relief. In a sense, these neutrals broke even in trade week, as the wins and losses cancelled each other out.

There are both positives and negatives for every team’s trade period endeavours; although there are teams that glistened and did the job they set out to do, and others teams that were disappointing and achieved less than what was expected of them.

The true test for teams will be sourcing talent from the National Draft, as this is where teams will seek to fill the voids that were not filled by the trade period.