In: Jye Caldwell, Peter Wright, Nick Hind
Out: Joe Daniher, Adam Saad, Orazio Fantasia, Shaun McKernan (delisted)
Draft picks: 6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87
The Bombers wanted Josh Dunkley but not enough to pay two first round draft picks so that’s a fail that could turn into a real positive as three top 10 picks give Essendon a chance to start afresh with vigour rather than getting another middling player on their list at a high price. They need to find quality key position players at either end however so patience, a quality in short supply at Essendon, might be required.
Out: Jesse Hogan
Draft picks: 12, 32, 55
They were in salary cap trouble, which is hard to believe given their absence from finals, so they did well to remove Hogan and keep their powder dry for the draft. Had a look at Geelong’s Jordan Clark but he stayed. Their list is stable and contains quality youngsters with a talented coach so they are in a strong position.
In: Isaac Smith, Shaun Higgins, Jeremy Cameron
Out: Lachie Fogarty, Nakia Cockatoo
Draft picks: 51, 96
Would have loved to get Cameron in and retain their three top 20 draft picks but they did reasonably well in the end to get two second round picks back for 2021 as well as their key forward target. In some ways they have swapped Tim Kelly for Cameron and introduced two quality veterans in Isaac Smith and Shaun Higgins to give them a real crack at a flag. Cooper Stephens and Sam DeKoning are quality youngsters that are yet to be seen and they didn’t put unnecessary pressure on their youngsters to leave or stay.
In: Rory Atkins, Oleg Markov
Out: Peter Wright
Draft picks: 5, 27, 37, 76, 84
They were interested in Adam Treloar and prepared to hand over pick five but moved on when their interest went unrequited. They hold a strong draft hand with Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey to arrive as Academy graduates and could look to improve their position. Their list is improving and removed an underperforming contract when Essendon recruited Wright, who was on about $500,000 in 2021 and 2022.
Greater Western Sydney
In: Jesse Hogan, Braydon Preuss
Out: Zac Williams, Aidan Corr, Jeremy Cameron, Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Zac Langdon
Draft picks: 10, 13, 15, 20, 29, 52, 74, 88
The number of players leaving is not ideal although all had valid reasons. The biggest concern are players leaving after two seasons so the club should seriously address the question of why that happened while their decision to match Cameron’s offer paid off as they now have four top 20 draft picks. Retention and performance are their main issues now.
In: Kyle Hartigan, Tom Phillips
Out: Isaac Smith
Draft picks: 4, 24, 45, 46, 49, 72
The Hawks had been keen to maintain their strong draft hand, not something they usually possess and managed to do that while still bringing in a couple of players to fill needs. Hartigan will provide cover for a defence missing James Sicily and having lost James Frawley and Ben Stratton while Phillips came in late and cheaply, helping plug a gap on a wing. Tall backman Denver Grainger-Barras looms large at pick No. 4.
In: Ben Brown
Out: Mitch Hannan, Braydon Preuss
Draft picks: 18, 19, 28, 50, 89
Heading into a season in which they simply must make the finals for Simon Goodwin’s sake, the Dees brought in a proven star in the form of Brown, for around the same price they gained in selling fringe ruckman Preuss. But they would have liked to offload Tom McDonald and couldn’t find a suitor, while Aaron vandenBerg and Alex Neal-Bullen were also shopped around. Shaun McKernan had been a target too but he picked the Saints.
In: Aidan Corr, Jaidyn Stephenson, Lachie Young, Atu Bosenavulagi
Out: Shaun Higgins, Ben Brown
Draft picks: 2, 11, 30, 39, 71, 81
Without a coach and having axed 11 players straight after the season, North weren’t in a position of power. They gave away their hand early by putting Brown on the trade table but managed to take advantage of Collingwood’s firesale by landing Stephenson and Bosenavulagi. At the very least, North are no longer deluded about where they sit. They also secured a new deal for Jed Anderson after protracted negotiations.
In: Orazio Fantasia, Aliir Aliir
Draft picks: 35, 47, 57, 59, 73, 95
A relatively quiet but still neat trade period for the Power who built on a strong season with two handy acquisitions. Aliir, acquired for a second-rounder, fills a need for more tall backmen while Fantasia is a matchwinner if Port can get him fit. They should also land academy gun Lachie Jones in the draft.
Out: Jack Higgins, Oleg Markov
Draft picks: 17, 36, 61, 79, 97
The Tigers are used to losing fringe players, as tends to happen when you are at the top of the tree. Markov is a handy type but hasn’t been able to secure a spot however the loss of Higgins will irk those at Punt Road more as he is still very young and has plenty of upside. Richmond at least managed to get a second-rounder and slide up in the draft in losing the goalsneak.
In: Brad Crouch, Shaun McKernan, Jack Higgins
Out: Nick Hind
Draft picks: 21, 64, 67, 74, 93
Yet again the Saints look to be big winners of the trade and free agency period. Under Simon Lethlean they have become a destination club. They didn’t waver in their contract offer for Crouch and yet still managed to land a good player for nothing, while Higgins was an added bonus who will add to their array of smalls. McKernan is a renowned great clubman who can plug holes while they could bolster their tall depth further with James Frawley. The Saints still have a few questionable contracts on their books which hurt their chances with Treloar. Hind had become surplus to needs.
In: Tom Hickey
Out: Aliir Aliir
Draft picks: 3, 31, 34, 43, 60, 82
The Swans weren’t huge players with their salary cap limiting options. But they fulfilled their most desperate need by acquiring journeyman ruckman Hickey. Aliir was popular with fans but had his limitations, although that does look like a deal which could come back to bite. The Swans also worked around their picks to help land academy kids Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell.
In: Zac Langdon, Alex Witherden
Out: Tom Hickey
Draft picks: 62, 86, 91
It was going to be hard to top last year’s Tim Kelly acquisition but the Eagles did some tidy work this year too, albeit lower-profile. West Australian Langdon heads home and fills a clear need as a small forward while Witherden was gained in an opportunistic and cheap move. His kicking skills suit the Eagles’ game style to a tee. Hickey had fallen well behind in the ruck stocks and just as easily as he arrived he headed to the Swans.
In: Stefan Martin, Adam Treloar, Mitch Hannan
Out: Lachie Young
Draft picks: 26, 33, 41, 42, 54, 90
Quite possibly saving the best until last. The Dogs enjoyed a bonanza, picking up star Treloar relatively cheaply while hanging onto Josh Dunkley after refusing to be pushed around by Essendon. Just how all those star midfielders combine remains to be seen but they will have better depth in service from above after Martin was nabbed cheaply to help out Tim English. Hannan fills another clear need in the small forward department while they have cleared out points to take academy star Jamarra Ugle-Hagan economically.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter