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Credit: The Age
The 2024 trade market promises to be about the key forwards – when Ben King and Aaron Naughton will be out of contract – but the big backmen and ruckmen continue to capture this year’s headlines.
The AFL’s free agency window opens this Friday and runs until the following Friday, with a flurry of players to exercise their right to switch clubs, while the trade period begins on Monday and runs until Wednesday the week after.
Keep scrolling to see each club’s priorities this trade period.
With North Melbourne’s unrestricted free agent Todd Goldstein choosing Essendon over Collingwood and St Kilda, attention switches to fellow All-Australian Brodie Grundy’s impending move from Melbourne to Sydney.
The ex-Magpie, who fell out of favour in his first season as a Demon, promises to be the biggest name to change clubs this trade period, barring any potential surprises, such as the Jason Horne-Francis and Jaeger O’Meara moves last year.
Goldstein will follow Kangaroos teammate Ben McKay to Tullamarine once free agency opens on Friday and reunite with old coach Brad Scott, but McKay’s restricted status makes it more complicated, given North can still match the Bombers’ offer if they are dissatisfied with their compensation.
Roos list boss Brady Rawlings has stated publicly they are willing to do so, if McKay’s Essendon contract does not trigger band-one compensation, which would equate to pick three.
Grundy is the big fish the Swans tried all year to land, after missing out on McKay and Tom Barrass, and with another restricted free agent and tall defender, Tom Doedee, more likely to sign with Brisbane or Collingwood if he leaves Adelaide.
Essendon, with outgoing list boss Adrian Dodoro and chief executive Craig Vozzo on the job, are also favourites to convince the other remaining restricted free agent, Jade Gresham, to sign.
Gresham is prioritising team fit over other factors, and has not ruled out re-signing at St Kilda, while Richmond also expressed interest in the small forward, who can also go through the midfield.
The most-talked-about key defender this side of McKay is Geelong’s Esava Ratugolea, who requested a trade to Port Adelaide. The Power are bracing for another hectic trade period, with Jordon Sweet and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher also wanting to make Alberton home.
Gold Coast’s ex-Tiger Mabior Chol is the forward-ruck in demand, with Adelaide, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Brisbane in the hunt for him.
The Lions were the first of those clubs to show interest in him, but are growing wary of the potential bidding war for a player who still has two years to run on his contract. Elijah Hollands, the No.7 pick in the 2020 draft, also seems poised to join his brother Ollie at Carlton.
Trading pick four to acquire more draft points is the Suns’ top priority as they prepare to match bids on academy prospects Jed Walter, Ethan Read, Jake Rogers and Will Graham.
That selection seems headed to the Western Bulldogs, who are set to part with picks 10 and 17 this year and their future first-rounder, but will also get something back on top of No.4 from Gold Coast in that potential deal. The Dogs will match a first-round bid on father-son forward Jordan Croft, and rival recruiters expect them to strongly consider classy small forward Nick Watson.
The Suns, in turn, will almost certainly use those Bulldogs picks to create even more draft capital.
The Crows want a Chol type before they agree to let Elliott Himmelberg join his brother Harry at the Giants, but are hopeful of trading for another Sun, Chris Burgess, who won the Frosty Miller Medal as the VFL’s leading goalkicker. The swingman may primarily play as a defender if he crosses to Adelaide.
The Kangaroos, armed with three extra first-round picks across the next two years – and with the potential McKay compensation to come – will be active in the player movement period as well.
They will bring in Dylan Stephens (Sydney) and Zac Fisher (Carlton) at minimum, and are best positioned to score the No.1 pick and rights to Harley Reid off West Coast, who are keen on hotshot local prospect Daniel Curtin.
As for the Saints, they won the Liam Henry sweepstakes and now need to broker a trade with Fremantle, but are unlikely to stop there despite whiffing on some targets throughout the season, including Tom De Koning and Sam Flanders, who both chose to stay at their clubs.
Carlton’s Paddy Dow is a player of interest and will come far cheaper than the aforementioned duo, with Sydney also inquiring about the No.3 pick in the 2017 draft. The Swans have already convinced Melbourne’s unrestricted free agent James Jordon to head to the Harbour City as effectively a replacement for Stephens.
But the Demons hope to broker a trade for spring-heeled Adelaide forward Shane McAdam.
Contracted Saint Jack Billings is keen to find a new home, too, while the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane have inquired about another top-10 draftee, Nick Coffield.
Another situation to watch involves the Brisbane Lions’ Deven Robertson, who played in Saturday’s grand final and must decide whether to re-sign at the Lions or seek a trade back to his home state to play for West Coast.
Adem Yze will be entering his first trade period as senior coach at the Tigers, who need to work out what they will do up forward now that Jack Riewoldt has retired. Part of that solution might be Hawthorn’s Jacob Koschitzke, who wants to play in yellow and black.
Fremantle have limited list spots, so are most interested in garnering a strong return for Henry, who enjoyed a breakout season as a winger. Henry’s exit could create a place for Gold Coast’s Jeremy Sharp to become a Docker, 12 months after he first tried, but that might be as a delisted free agent.
Hawthorn will lose Tyler Brockman (West Coast) and Koschitzke (Richmond), but Essendon dasher Massimo D’Ambrosio wants to become a Hawk. They missed out on McKay, Ratugolea and Henry, and have salary cap room, so don’t rule out Hawthorn making some other moves.
The Giants hope to add a second Himmelberg, but may lose back-up ruckman Matt Flynn to West Coast, where he will have an opportunity to compete to be the No.1 big man.
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