Mick McGuane analyses every Victorian and SA side and what moves they will make
Mick McGuane analyses every Victorian and SA side and what moves they will make

McGuane: Left-field benefit of Pies signing McDonald

Contracts seem to mean little in today's football.

There are plenty of uncontracted players looking for new homes this trade period, but also a lot of players who are contracted for 2021 and beyond that are set to switch clubs.

Carlton, Essendon and Geelong look like being the big players this year - but don't be surprised if a few other clubs also make some huge moves.

Here's my take on what your club is - or should be - targeting to improve in 2021 and who might be squeezed out to make way.




Jackson Hately will be heading home to Adelaide. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Jackson Hately will be heading home to Adelaide. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images



The Crows will clearly go to the draft, but just how many picks they use will be interesting to see.

They had 17 of the 38 players they used this year play nine games or less, so they got a lot of games into a lot of players to see where their list is at this year.

Pushing out BRAD CROUCH is the right move, particularly after he was caught in possession of recreational drugs post-season.

As good as Crouch has been - highlighted by a best and fairest win in 2019 - from a cultural standpoint, that's a good environment to bring a raft of young draftees into.

Adelaide will get South Australian JACKSON HATELY back home from Greater Western Sydney, who was a pick 14 in the 2018 national draft.

But while the Crows eye that as a positive, I'm not so sure.

Hately is a great kid with a professional attitude and he'll grow with the club's crop of young players, but I think he's a one-paced midfielder that hasn't got a lot of weapons.

He's a fairly vanilla footballer in my view.

Richmond forward Jack Higgins is exactly the type of player Carlton needs.
Richmond forward Jack Higgins is exactly the type of player Carlton needs.


The Blues have some money to play with and will be making some moves this trade period.

Essendon defender ADAM SAAD has indicated his desire to get to Princes Park, which is intelligent recruiting on a needs basis for Carlton.

He's an All-Australian rebounding defender that can be good with his ball use and the Bombers will be seeking a pretty penny for his services.

But at this stage of Saad's career, Carlton should not be giving up pick 7 to get a deal done.

The Blues will be trying to work something out later in the first round or give up an early second-round pick.

GWS defender ZAC WILLIAMS will join Saad on the list of ins, and looms as another strong recruit given his ability to play halfback but also run through the midfield.

There are two other holes on the list that Carlton is also looking to fill.

One is a small forward, given Eddie Betts might play eight or 10 games at best next season.

Richmond forward JACK HIGGINS fits the bill as a creative goalkicking forward who can also run through the midfield.

Other options might be St Kilda's JACK SINCLAIR or JACK LONIE.

The Blues would also like another midfielder, after failing to lure Tiger JACK GRAHAM.

Collingwood's ADAM TRELOAR has been mentioned, but it's Pie in the Sky stuff to think Collingwood would let Treloar go to another Victorian club given his circumstances.


Recruiting Tom McDonald would mean the Magpies would be free to try Darcy Moore forward. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos
Recruiting Tom McDonald would mean the Magpies would be free to try Darcy Moore forward. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos



The Magpies have their fingers in a few pies, but find themselves in some tricky and delicate situations.

Their salary cap is tight.

Finding ADAM TRELOAR a new home at the Gold Coast Suns would help.

Collingwood's hierarchy would have sat down with Treloar and talked about how difficult the next 10-12 months will be without his family together, his welfare being the most important thing. But they are more than aware that Treloar is contracted and doesn't have to go anywhere. If he stays will it work?

If the Suns are prepared to give up pick 5 plus a player for Treloar, and he agrees to go the Magpies will take it.

I'd be surprised if, behind closed doors, a verbal agreement had not been reached with JORDAN DE GOEY on a new contract.

But Collingwood still needs a key forward.

I don't think the Pies had a 100% crack at GWS star JEREMY CAMERON. North Melbourne's BEN BROWN is available but having MASON COX and Brown in the same forward line would present plenty of challenges.

Melbourne's TOM MCDONALD has been linked to the Magpies, but I'm not convinced he's a key forward despite his 53-goal season in 2018 when he played second-fiddle to JESSE HOGAN.

If Collingwood did secure McDonald, though, he could head down back and free up DARCY MOORE to return to the forward line. That's the risk v reward possibility there.

I can see why TOM PHILLIPS might also be on the trade table.

The Magpies need creative ball users right now and with the amount of ball he wins, does he hurt opposition sides enough?



The Bombers' list strategy is puzzling to put it nicely.

They're all over Greater Western Sydney midfielder JYE CALDWELL and big-bodied Western Bulldogs onballer JOSH DUNKLEY.

Then there's a sweetener for Dunkley of getting his brother, KYLE DUNKLEY, who's been delisted by Melbourne and would be lucky to play an AFL game or have an impact if he did.

Bringing in these players compounds the problem the Bombers have already got of having too many midfielders who all think they have to start on-ball - think Devon Smith, Dylan Shiel, Zach Merrett, Andrew McGrath and Darcy Parish.

At the same time, Essendon is losing a pair of key forwards in JOE DANIHER and SHAUN McKERNAN.

It might be time, too, for swingman CALE HOOKER to look for a two-year deal elsewhere.

Does Ben Rutten really want to play him next year? I'm not convinced.

The Bombers are also waving goodbye to forward ORAZIO FANTASIA and halfback ADAM SAAD and CONOR MCKENNA.

Brisbane's ALEX WITHERDEN could help fill the rebounding defender void given he is on the outer at the Lions, but his lack of speed concerns me.

Melbourne's JAYDEN HUNT and Richmond's OLEG MARKOV, who both have speed, could also be considered as low-cost recruits that fit the bill.

In front of the ball, North Melbourne's BEN BROWN should be a key priority because Essendon can't survive with James Stewart and Jake Stringer as their two key targets next year.



Shaun Higgins looms as the best replacement for Gary Ablett for at least one season. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Shaun Higgins looms as the best replacement for Gary Ablett for at least one season. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images



Grand finalists in 2020 with Greater Western Sydney key forward JEREMY CAMERON coming in is a massive positive for the Cats.

Cameron shapes as the marquee mover of the trade and free agency period, but he won't come cheaply.

The Giants are going to want a piece of Geelong's three first-round draft picks, as well as a player.

I think that player could be Cats forward ESAVA RATUGOLEA, who has shown plenty of promise but featured in only 12 games this year.

If not Ratugolea, half-forward LACHIE FOGARTY or midfielder CHALIE CONSTABLE will be in the discussion despite also being contracted for 2021.

Could the Giants even ask for half back JORDAN CLARK, a quality ball user and decision maker who would be a perfect replacement for HEATH SHAW? Being a Western Australian is that too great a risk to take?

NAKIA COCKATOO is headed for Brisbane and I can see why the Lions would take the risk on the small forward who has played just two games in three years due to injury.

North Melbourne's SHAUN HIGGINS looms as an ideal replacement for the retired Gary Ablett at the Cats, able to play a similar role as a high half-forward and through the midfield.

I expect ISAAC SMITH to stay at Hawthorn, but I can understand why the Cats would be into him.

If HARRY TAYLOR retires, Mark Blicavs could roll back to defence and Smith could fill the wing role that Blicavs had been playing.



The Hawks need to find an injection of speed through the midfield, whether it be through the trade period or the draft.

They'll get Adelaide's KYLE HARTIGAN, which is a no-brainer and not dissimilar to what the Hawks have done in recent times by bringing in strong, ready-made key or hybrid defenders like Brian Lake, Josh Gibson, Sam Frost and Michael Hartley.

Hartigan will get opportunity on the back of what the Hawks have lost in retired pair Ben Statton and James Frawley, and with James Sicily to miss much of next year injured.

The Hawks had also been into Melbourne's BRAYDON PREUSS before he picked the Giants as his club of choice, knowing they need to find their next ruckman with Jonathon Ceglar on the way out.

I'd expect Hawthorn will also be in the market for another small pressure forward after the retirement of Paul Puopolo.

Could they go after Richmond's JACK HIGGINS to fill that spot?

Or maybe one of St Kilda pair JACK SINCLAIR and JACK LONIE?

Wingman ISAAC SMITH has once again been mentioned in trade discussions, but I'd expect him to stay a Hawk. Getting a 3 year deal elsewhere will be the reason why he finds a new home.

Talk linking him to clubs like Geelong and Melbourne is likely a ploy to manufacture a longer three-year deal at Waverley Park.


Jared Polec is exactly what Melbourne needs and would come cheap. Picture: Michael Klein
Jared Polec is exactly what Melbourne needs and would come cheap. Picture: Michael Klein


The big hole the Demons need to fill is a key forward spot and North Melbourne's BEN BROWN is probably the one they want.

The question is, with the money that Brown is asking, does TOM MCDONALD need to be squeezed out to make that work?

Or can McDonald survive and instead head back to defence alongside Steven May and Jake Lever in a three-tall backline similar to the Richmond model?

I think McDonald plays his best football in defence, but he etched his big contract out of his 53-goal 2018 season playing forward but was also their No. 2 forward behind Hogan.

The Demons are losing back-up ruckman BRAYDON PREUSS to GWS, as well as MITCH HANNAN to the Western Bulldogs.

I think they will be looking for some more outside midfielders with effective ball use.

They got Ed Langdon playing pretty good footy this year, but he's not a great kick and turns it over quite often.

That's the reason I think they will be looking at Hawthorn's ISAAC SMITH or even be in the conversation with North Melbourne's JARED POLEC.

It didn't work out for Polec at the Kangaroos, but a new club might be able to iron out the selfishness that led to his demise this year.

Or, the Demons might just accept how Polec plays his best football and try to make the most of his weapons in offence.

Out-of-contract JAYDEN HUNT will likely find himself on the trade table and would suit a club like Essendon.


Peter Wright needs a fresh start and the Western Bulldogs need a player like him.
Peter Wright needs a fresh start and the Western Bulldogs need a player like him.


Entering trade period without a coach is far from an ideal spot to be.

If Michael Voss does not want to do it, is it Adam Kingsley?

He's been a highly regarded assistant at St Kilda and more recently Richmond and will have John Blakey alongside him, potentially with Paul Roos over the top.

Regardless, the Kangaroos look set to get Greater Western Sydney key defender AIDAN CORR and Western Bulldogs rebounding defender LACHIE YOUNG, who is a good ball user and a player with upside.

I was really disappointed with how North handled midfielder SHAUN HIGGINS this year, who looks set for a move to Geelong.

I understand they had to have an eye to the future but they lacked leadership at the coalface in the midfield and left him where he was not suited on the wing.

The delisting of MARLEY WILLIAMS was surprising and he might suit another club as a lockdown small defender.

Given the loss of key forward BEN BROWN, the Kangaroos should be in the race for Gold Coast's PETER WRIGHT.

We know Wright has got some talent and, while there are question marks on his competitiveness, he could fill the Brown void up forward as well as support an ageing Todd Goldstein in the ruck.

Wright might be a bargain-basement pick-up for the Kangaroos and a return home to Victoria might be just what he needs to spark his career.

Defensively, players like Richmond's RYAN GARTHWAITE and OLEG MARKOV could also be considered.



A bit like Richmond the past two years, the Power look set to be the sleeper of the trade and free agency period.

But they will get what should be one very handy recruit in Essendon's ORAZIO FANTASIA, with an in-principle agreement already done there.

Port played only 30 players this year, which tells me that they've got their medical and sports science department in order.

That is the perfect environment for Fantasia to walk into given injuries have restricted him to 33 games in three years including just five in 2020.

The Power will want to get that deal done with the Bombers promptly by giving up their pick 26 to get it done.

Fantasia is a perfect marriage at Port, where he will be able to play in front of the ball given Connor Rozee and Zak Butters are emerging as genuine midfielders.

Speculation of Port's interest in Sydney's ALIIR ALIIR has been overblown.

He is contracted at the Swans and that's where I expect him to stay, with Port having shown minimal interest.

OLLIE WINES' name comes up at trade time every year and no doubt Essendon and Carlton would like him, but I'd be shocked if the Power gave him up.


Could Sydney Stack make a move to a club like St Kilda, despite having a contract for 2021?
Could Sydney Stack make a move to a club like St Kilda, despite having a contract for 2021?


You don't have to change much when you've just won a third premiership in four years.

The Tigers have a great list, but there is one player they'd be silly not to seriously entertain this trade period - Fremantle's JESSE HOGAN.

Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch work well together in attack, but we know Riewoldt is getting closer to the end and 2021 could be his final season.

So as part of the succession plan, getting a 25-year-old Hogan into the club would be a clever move.

Richmond has gone down the Risk v Reward path plenty of times, giving guys like Ben Cousins, Chris Yarran, Sydney Stack and Marlion Pickett a chance.

So there's a lot of merit in the Tigers backing themselves and their culture to change an individual like Hogan. He can play.

Small forward JACK HIGGINS found himself squeezed out of the Richmond line-up this year and, while contracted for 2021, will seek greater opportunities elsewhere.

Clubs will inquire about SYDNEY STACK and CALLUM COLEMAN-JONES given their talent and upside, after indiscretions this year put them on the outer.

I expect defender NATHAN BROAD to stay at Punt Rd after playing a significant role in finals and featuring in a third premiership, but fellow out-of-contract defender RYAN GARTHWAITE might find suitors elsewhere.

An emergency for the Grand Final, speedy rebounding defender OLEG MARKOV could also find a new home.



The Saints will get Adelaide's BRAD CROUCH, but they have got money for one more player and a mid-range midfielder is what they want.

Brett Ratten admitted after St Kilda's finals exit that they needed more midfield depth and I agree with that.

Who that second midfielder is, I'm not sure.

Do they entertain a chat with Richmond's SYDNEY STACK?

St Kilda is also in the conversation with delisted Essendon key forward SHAUN MCKERNAN and I see why, because he can be a back-up ruckman and back-up forward to Max King.

RYAN ABBOTT was their back-up ruckman, but he has been delisted.

Saints players who might seek greater opportunity elsewhere include JIMMY WEBSTER, JACK LONIE, JACK SINCLAIR and LUKE DUNSTAN.

Opposition clubs will be asking a lot of questions about some of those players that did not play a lot of footy this year because of the elevation of players like Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield.

There is obviously money attached to some of those guys, but clubs can work with St Kilda to make it work for both parties.


Brisbane might not need Stefan Martin anymore, but Western Bulldogs could sure use an experienced ruckman like him to help Tim English. Picture: Getty Images
Brisbane might not need Stefan Martin anymore, but Western Bulldogs could sure use an experienced ruckman like him to help Tim English. Picture: Getty Images


The big one for the Bulldogs is whether JOSH DUNKLEY stays or goes.

Dunkley has an offer from Essendon and all indications are he wants out.

But as a contracted player, if that is the case then Dunkley needs to sit down with Luke Beveridge and tell the coach to his face and the reasons why he wants out.

If he does that, the Bulldogs will have no option but to trade the big-bodied midfielder.

Melbourne's MITCH HANNAN is heading to Whitten Oval and will be a good pick up who provides a point of difference in the front half.

But the Bulldogs might be well served to go after another big man like Gold Coast's PETER WRIGHT.

The Josh Schache experiment has not worked and nor has playing Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce in the same forward line.

Wright is a much better player in good conditions like he would get under the roof at Marvel Stadium, could play a supporting role in the ruck to Tim English and allow Aaron Naughton to return to defence.

In my opinion he could elevate his game to an All -Australian level as a defender.

If not Wright, the Bulldogs might need to think outside the square and go after an experienced ruck like Brisbane's STEFAN MARTIN.

He is mobile, strong and combative and could give English some back-up for a year or two while he builds his body.

Also remember that a very exciting JAMARRA UGLE-HAGAN will join the Bulldogs through the draft and could make an immediate impact in the front-half.

Originally published as McGuane: Left-field benefit of Pies signing McDonald

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