After grabbing Jake Melksham at the end of last season, Melbourne has seemingly decided that the solution to its problems is to recruit another mid-sized Essendon player in Michael Hibberd. Both players are listed at the same height and roughly the same weight. Both are coming off, ahem, an extended offseason. And both may be surplus to the requirements of the Dees, considering the development of their side last season.
Even with a season off, Hibberd rates as a relatively valuable player, but the absence of real footy for a year does present a risk, regardless of the reason. If not for the season away, Hibberd would be worth slightly more according to the HPN formula, but you could call this the cost of doing business with WADA.
Hibberd’s role at the Dons was often as a rebounding half back, something Melbourne has worked at developing with young players such as Wagner, Hunt and Salem, and is also the role Bernie Vince filled at times last year. Melbourne also recruited Lumumba for this purpose, although he has struggled with injuries in the last year. Where Hibberd fits in this picture, as well as the very solid Jetta, is unsure at this time. It is likely that Hibberd’s recruitment will force Melbourne to shift one of the aforementioned players into other roles, such as Hunt to the wing (something that was done at times last season).
The commonly mentioned trade for Hibberd has Melbourne’s second round pick going to the Dons:
Whilst this is a fair trade, the Demons get the better end of it, to an almost unfair degree. A more fair trade may look like this:
(Editors note: an earlier version of this post had the Melbourne pick in as being pick 36 – which is owned by Geelong currently. As most of you are aware, it’s against AFL rules at present to trade draft picks that other clubs own. The text has been updated to reflect this.)
Essendon are in a semi-rebuild right now, and require young players to undertake this. With this trade, the Dons get an higher shot at the draft, which is meant to be a very even one. The HPN formula rates the difference between pick 46 and 57 to be quite small for Melbourne to downgrade – about 16 games worth of unadjusted value. There may also be the situation that future picks will be involved, but at this early stage this is hard to evaluate.
Verdict: Both proposed trades would be fair, but the second one would see Essendon in a better position.