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CHANGES 2017 - PART ONE

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CHANGES 2017 by The Oracle

PART ONE - THOSE WERE THE DAYS

“Change can be good for a player — and good for the game too.” Michael Hibberd speaking of Jake Lever's move to Melbourne during the trade period - Having changed AFL clubs himself, Melbourne defender Michael Hibberd has no issue with Jake Lever being a Demon

Of course he would say that given that Hibberd will be playing alongside the talented young defender over the coming few years in what will hopefully be a successful period in their club's history but the recruitment of Jake Lever represents something very fresh and new in the modern landscape at Melbourne. 

It's very clear now that the dream of making Melbourne a destination club in the AFL is finally a reality and a welcome change after years of frustration when the traffic in players went the other way.

Lever is the consummate young defender with the world at his feet - a young man who was keenly chased by at least four Melbourne-based clubs — the Demons, the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Hawthorn — before  deciding on Melbourne.

That decision might have upset Adelaide and its skipper Tex Walker but it's something Demon fans have been exposed to for some time. They were told then to suck it up, grin and bear and move on while some of their best were stolen from them. Those were the days and they're over. The price was high given that the club gave away two first round draft picks to get their man but the Demons believe the cost will be justified in the long run.

The exchange period also saw Melbourne acquire a little known Fremantle player in 20-year-old Harley Balic who only two years ago was touted as a potential first round draft until a wrist injury saw him fall to 38 in the AFL National Draft. His career with the Dockers was soured by surgery for his serious scaphoid injury, homesickness and a hamstring tear. The former Sandringham Dragon is now back home and happy to be a Demon.

          *          *         *          *          *          *          *

At this time of the year, each AFL club is well into changing its list for the coming season. It's well worth reflecting for a start on the Demons' playing list as it stood for season 2017:-

PRIMARY LIST:

Angus Brayshaw Tomas Bugg Sam Frost Colin Garland Jeff Garlett Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Jesse Hogan Liam Hulett Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Dion Johnstone Nathan Jones Ben Kennedy Jay Kennedy-Harris Dean Kent Mitch King Jordan Lewis Heritier Lumumba Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Pat McKenna Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Cameron Pedersen Christian Petracca Christian Salem Jake Spencer Billy Stretch Jack Trengove Dom Tyson Aaron vandenBerg Bernie Vince Jack Viney Josh Wagner Jack Watts Sam Weideman 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A

Lachlan Filipovic Declan Keilty Tim Smith Mitch White 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B

Corey Maynard Joel Smith

The club's two trade inclusions have been offset by the usual number of players who leave for various reasons, the most controversial being the trade of former number one draft selection Jack Watts to Port Adelaide for a second round draft pick. In a much earlier controversy, Heritier Lumumba retired last September while the other retirement came more recently when Colin Garland decided to hang up his boots after missing 2017 due to ACL surgery. The club has delisted Liam Hulett, Ben Kennedy, Jake Spencer, Jack Trengove and rookie lister Mitch White.

The club's former basketball stars were also promoted from the list of Category B rookies. Joel Smith has been elevated to the senior list while Corey Maynard has been elevated to a category A rookie. 

The club's playing list after the free agency and trade period:-

PRIMARY LIST:

Angus Brayshaw Harley Balic Tomas Bugg Sam Frost Jeff Garlett Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Jesse Hogan Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Dion Johnstone Nathan Jones Jay Kennedy-Harris Dean Kent Mitch King Jake Lever Jordan Lewis Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Pat McKenna Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Cameron Pedersen Christian Petracca Christian Salem Joel Smith Billy Stretch Dom Tyson Aaron vandenBerg Bernie Vince Jack Viney Josh Wagner Sam Weideman 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A

Lachlan Filipovic Declan Keilty Corey Maynard Tim Smith 

With the the trade period now finished, every club knows exactly what draft picks it holds ahead of the national draft. For the Demons, three of their four selections will be in the second round of the draft meeting later this month.

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Nucleus of team is strong but plenty of room to grow and spots available.  

We need to develop very good youngsters players into Stars. Viney is ready. Oliver  Petracca  Hogan  Lever  Brayshaw Tyson all to step up.  Jetta and Hibberd were outstanding in 17. 

Others make up a strong nucleus. Perhaps too much reliance on Gawn and Hogan to be fit and stand up in 2018.

Go around one more time:

Vince  - dropped off in 2017 and may struggle to be in best 22.  May go forward if required.

Pedersen - keeps on going.  Lifts when you think he is gone. Big heart may carry on 

On the edge :

J Smith- I see him really stepping up in 18.  Lever takes tall defender role but Smithy has the tools to play anywhere. Fingers crossed on healthy run.

 Bugg - lucky to survive  ...Owes the club  

Vandenburg - needs to be injury free

Kent - poor discipline and injuries killed 2017. Last chance saloon.

JKH  - on the cusp. 2018 will be make or break

Wagner - dropped off in 2017. Disposal was poor.  A maybe at best!

Mckenna - didn’t see him in 2017. Must be injury free and show his potential 

Must develop :

Johnstone - saw him twice at Casey.  Plays in on/off bursts. Not sure so would like to see him more before judge.

King- more gym work required. Our backup in 2018.

Rookies: 

Kielty - very close.  Like to see him given a game in 2018

Maynard- like his style. Hope he progresses

T Smith- another who needs a clean fit run. Still on doubtful list

Filopovic - raw and skinny. Injury hit 2017. Given another year to see what he brings. A lot more required.

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