The trade period might’ve finished a couple of weeks ago, but the dealing and negotiations haven’t stopped.
All AFL clubs remain in trade mode as they can still swap picks and strike deals in the lead-up to – and during – the two-day national draft next month.
Since Monday October 17 – five days after the trade period deadline – clubs have been able to trade draft picks. If they want to complete any swaps prior to the draft, they’ll have until 5pm on Tuesday November 15.
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We saw this last week when North Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide essentially completed a three-way trade that helped the Kangaroos get back into this year’s second round and the Crows position themselves to be better prepared to match a bid on their father-son prospect Max Michalanney.
The top of this year’s draft order has already experienced a significant shake-up, primarily thanks to the four-club mega deal during the trade period that saw the Giants collect Pick 1, the Kangaroos trade in Picks 2 and 3 and West Coastpart with Pick 2 but pick up two first-round selections (Picks 8 and 12) almost certainly with an eye to recruiting WA-based talent. Elsewhere, the Suns acquired Pick 5 as compensation for losing Izak Rankine then gave up Pick 7 to Geelong as part of the Jack Bowes salary dump deal.
Rival clubs have been made aware of North Melbourne’sopenness to trading Pick 3 in a deal that would see the Roos appropriately compensated.
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The Saints made a play for that Kangaroos selection during the final stages of the recent trade period, offering its first selection (Pick 9) and contracted 23-year-old Hunter Clark in exchange for Pick 3. Despite North’s interest in Clark, list boss Brady Rawlings told Fox Footy it “wasn’t quite the deal we’d be prepared to do” as the club wasn’t prepared to send “picks at the pointy end” to the Saints in order to acquire Clark.
St Kilda remains a trade watch. List boss James Gallagher declared late last month the club’s priority this off-season was “to improve that real top-end of our list, whether that be through trade or free agency or through the draft”. After a quiet trade period, that will now have to be the draft. And in this year’s pool, there’s a big quality difference between a player the Saints could get at Pick 10 (after a Will Ashcroft bid) compared to a selection inside the top eight.
“We’re pretty open-minded. If we can come in a bit earlier (than Pick 9 in the draft), that’d be great. But at the same time on the night, it may be pushing out a couple of spots to pick up something extra if that’s the way we feel the draft is going,” Gallagher told AFL Trade Radio last month.
Recruiters spoken to by foxfooty.com.au this week indicated clubs with picks in the teens – particularly those with multiple selections – would most likely be on the lookout to move up the order. Whether they ultimately move up the order, though, depends on their offer and if it’s enticing enough for the other party to take.
All eyes are on Carlton, which currently holds Picks 10, 29, 49 and 66 in this year’s draft.
The Blues have not only been open with rival clubs, but also with their fans about their picks being on the table. List manager Nick Austin told AFL Trade Radio earlier this month: “We feel like we’re in a good position with our draft hand to be able to move around a bit and I think there’s going to be some opportunities to do that as some deals get done and more particularly on (draft night) itself.”
But this wouldn’t exclusively be a case of moving up the draft order to get an earlier pick, as the Blues are also open to shuffling down the order and bringing in multiple selections.
Foxfooty.com.au understands the Blues have already reached out to the GWS Giants and inquired about a possible trade. The Giants – on top of Pick 1 – also hold Picks 15, 18, 19 and 31 in this year’s draft, with that suite of selections piquing Carlton’s interest.
Recruiters are also wary of Melbourne (Pick 13), Collingwood (Picks 16, 25 and 27) and the Sydney Swans (Picks 14 and 17) all eyeing moves up the order. Although they also wouldn’t be surprised if the Swans and Giants held their respective selections and not only launched bids on father-son and academy prospects – such as Michalanney (Adelaide), Jaspa Fletcher (Brisbane), Harry Rowston (Giants) and Alwyn Davey Jnr (Essendon) – but also selected players to fill list chasms. For instance, foxfooty.com.au understands the Giants have put ample work into Sandringham Dragon Charlie Clarke as they’re looking to add a small forward-midfield talent to their list.
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The consensus among recruiters spoken to by foxfooty.com.au this week is Fletcher will be the second prospect to attract a rival club bid. If Ashcroft receives a bid at Pick 1 and Fletcher earns one at roughly Pick 15, the Brisbane Lions would need to use 3290 points to match the bids. As it stands, they only have 2247 points (Picks 34, 35, 36, 38, 55 and 73) – not even enough to match an Ashcroft bid at Pick 1 (2400 points). So they could either trade for more second and third-round picks, or go into draft deficit, which would see their first pick in the 2023 draft move backwards.
In an ideal world for Essendon, Davey would receive a bid after the Bombers’ second pick, meaning they could use their first two selections (Pick 4 and 22) to recruit players in the open draft. But recruiters this week indicated it’ll be a lineball on whether a Davey bid comes before the Bombers’ second pick. If it does, the Bombers’ natural second-rounder would be eaten up in the bid-matching process.
Adelaide is set to pick up father-son prospect Michalanney and one other player at the draft. As it stands, the Crows have enough points to match an early second-round bid on Michalanney without going into draft deficit.
If any clubs are looking to trade in more points to match bids, Hawthorn might be the answer.
In an unapologetic bid to “win it all when our time comes” and not “just sneak into the finals”, according to coach Sam Mitchell, the Hawks have experienced significant list turnover since their 2022 campaign ended, with Ben McEvoy and Liam Shiels retiring and nine other players either being traded or delisted.
It means the Hawks now hold Picks 6, 24, 41, 48, 50, 52 and 65 in this year’s draft, yet with plans to only select four or five players. With the club keen to acquire elite young talent, a rival looking to bank points would be wise to consider Hawthorn’s strong third-round haul.
West Coast holds four selections inside the top 26: Picks 8, 12, 20 and 26. It looms as the Eagles‘ best draft hand in 15 years, so whether they’d be prepared to shuffle their selections too much remains doubtful, particularly with ample WA-based prospects sitting in that 18-pick range. They’re likely to select between four and five players.
The Western Bulldogs are expected to use three selections at the national draft. They hold their natural first-rounder (Pick 11), but have traded in attractive second-round and third-round selections – Pick 21 (attached to the Giants) and Pick 39 (attached to North Melbourne) – that rival clubs could be eyeing off.
Fremantle, arguably the busiest club of the trade period, could still take four players at the draft. It seems more likely the Dockers will be happy to select players using their current selections: Picks 30, 44, 67 and 76.
Geelong could take two or three players with their draft selections. One of those selections will be Pick 7, where the Cats will hope Falcons skipper Jhye Clark will still be on the board, while they also hold Picks 58 and 64, with Stephen Wells no doubt looking to find another late diamond in the rough.
Port Adelaide and Richmond – two teams that invested heavily in ready-made talent at the recent trade period – are likely to add two more players to their lists with their later picks in the national draft, while there’s a possibility Gold Coast could use just one selection.