Jack Martin in action at the NAB Draft Combine. Photo: Ken Irwin
MELBOURNE supporters spent most of Monday rejoicing. After all the hype, all the debate and all the possibilities, father-son bidding was done and the Demons had landed Jack Viney with pick No. 26. For probably the hardest, toughest, angriest onballer in this year's draft, it was indeed a bargain.
Melbourne-bound: Jesse Hogan is a Demon after an involved deal. Photo: Ken Irwin
Yesterday, the tone changed. Had the Demons, it was wondered, coughed up too much for 17-year-old Jesse Hogan?
He was secured after sending selections three and 13 to Greater Western Sydney in exchange for pick 20, the rights to Hogan and a player, midfield runner Dom Barry, who was tied to the Giants as a Northern Territory zone selection.
Why, asked supporters, hadn't Melbourne insisted on trading pick four, and not three? It could be argued that Melbourne paid more for the second mini-draft pick than Gold Coast handed over for the first pick, and Jack Martin.
In reality, the three deals - for Viney, Martin and Hogan - are tied together. Gold Coast wanted Martin as a priority, because he is such a big talent and because, coming from the 2014 draft pool, he helps spread the age of their young list, albeit slightly.
There was a bit more in it for the Suns, too, because in addition to sending pick two to the Giants they arranged a switch of end-of-first-round compensation picks.
Doing this basically gave them an extra year in which to activate that pick, with the Giants' pick now expiring in 2014 and the Gold Coast able to use its pick up to 2015.
Melbourne wanted Hogan. GWS wanted to deal with the Demons, because they had the next best pick on offer - No. 3 - and could see an opportunity to go to the draft holding their first three choices. But they had no way of getting pick three if the Demons were forced to use it on Viney.
Promising Martin to the Gold Coast meant the Suns could not risk bidding for Viney and having Melbourne call their bluff. So, no one bids. Viney, an obvious top 10 prospect, makes it through to the second round and all three clubs get what they most wanted.
This is not to suggest that anything other than shrewd trading went on. If it looks dodgy it's more smart-dodgy than breaking-the-rules-dodgy.
Gold Coast was in no way obligated to bid for Viney, or do anything other than what best suited the club. It strongly considered bidding for Viney and was prepared to do that, and to snare him if Melbourne failed to match its bid. But what suited the Suns better was getting Martin, a player they - like everyone - thought the Bulldogs were favourites to get.
The Dogs were pushing hard, but told GWS on the weekend that they could not give up both picks five and six for him.
That done, the Suns' offer of pick two was snapped up and the Demons, with Viney safely tucked away, handed over the (slightly) better top five pick, No. 3, with the other additions evening out the deal out.
It's a decent one. They get Hogan, a hard-working, hard-running, tall forward from Claremont, who can spend next season at the club but not play senior footy until 2014.
Barry, a run-and-carry type onballer, might have been snapped up from the third round onwards in this year's draft.
Odds are the Demons will get the player they want at No. 4 anyway, whether they trade or keep it, while pick 20 keeps them in touch with the first group of kids.
To everyone else's frustration the Giants now hold picks one, two and three in the draft, and have five of the first 13 choices. This comes after they had 11 of the first 14 picks last year.
It's fair to say two things: one, that the mini-draft, added to GWS' concessions to urge clubs to trade senior players there, has not panned out in the anticipated spirit. And two, that the Giants have played it perfectly.