As always, trade rumours are spreading like wildfire as the trading period approaches. Rational deals have made way for seven-team trades, and the most loyal of club stalwarts are being labelled as gettable for rivals.
Through all this, The Inner Sanctum has taken an eye to each club and assessed where they are really at. With some trade requests already made and others soon to follow, there’s an opportunity for each club to bolster their squad with cut-price veterans in free agency, or burgeoning stars who are having thoughts about a change of scenery.
With free agency beginning on Friday and the trade period set to begin on the 4th of October through to the 14th, these are the players your club should be targeting for its 2022 campaign.
A second-straight bottom four finish leaves Adelaide with a multitude of list problems heading into the 2021 off-season.
Unless they are able to prise away young talent similar to Jackson Hately last year, the Crows need to focus on bringing in their elite talent through the draft to help complement the likes of Riley Thilthorpe and Harry Schoenberg.
However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t look to acquire players who can help in the short-term – so long as they’re cheap.
We already know Jordan Dawson is likely to make his way to West Lakes after nominating the Crows as his club of choice, but delisted Saint Luke Dunstan is a player who could step in and immediately fix some of Adelaide’s midfield woes. The 26-year-old’s ability to tackle and find the ball forward of centre would give the Crows a much needed boost given they sit 13th and 14th in those categories respectively.
Who they should target: Jordan Dawson (Sydney), Luke Dunstan (St Kilda)
After two straight-set finals exits in the past three years, the Lions will be looking to add to their side to make the next step in 2022.
The trade drama began for the Lions before the end of the 2021 season, with last year’s Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale touted as wanting to request a move back to Western Australia. Speculation has since died down after Neale said he wants to stay with two years left on his contract.
Having not been able to cement a spot in the senior side, Rhys Mathieson also re-signed despite suggestions he would seek a fresh start.
Though the side currently possesses quality all over the park, the lack of talls is an aspect of the list that needs attention. With Archie Smith leaving the club, Oscar McInerney is the lone ruckman of the side who’ll need support as Eric Hipwood is expected to miss a large portion of next season due to his knee injury.
Cats ruckman Darcy Fort has been linked with a move to the Lions. Despite playing just eight senior games since his arrival in 2019 and none in 2021, his form in the VFL has been impressive, being one of the Cats best VFL players averaging 19 disposals and 20 hitouts. He could be a handy pick-up and capable of being the Lions number two ruck, though Lions will need to trade him in as he’s contracted for 2022.
Delisted Blues forward Levi Casboult has also been linked with a move back to his home state, while out of favour Magpie Mason Cox could also add depth to the Lions shallow big-man stock.
Who they should target: Darcy Fort (Geelong), Levi Casboult (Carlton), Mason Cox (Collingwood)
Another underwhelming season at Princes Park has already seen seismic changes off the field with the removal of senior coach David Teague and other football department and senior management members falling victims to the external review.
On the field and among the playing list is where the Blues will look to be big players again in the upcoming player movement period.
Adam Cerra and George Hewett are expected to join the Blues, immediately bolstering their skinny midfield group and adding layers of class and toughness in the middle of the ground.
Carlton could also find themselves in the market for a backup ruckman to further support the developing Tom De Koning as he is still finding his feet at AFL level. After Marc Pittonet went down with injury in Round 14, the Blues had to turn to Jack Silvagni to provide relief ruck work while De Koning was off the ground. Port Adelaide ruckman Peter Ladhams has reportedly been told to look for a new home and could be an option should the Blues look to address this need.
Elsewhere, Carlton will this year look to bring in another key defensive option to add to their limited stocks in the backline. The Blues, despite leaking high scores most weeks, were lucky to have a great key defensive pairing in Liam Jones and Jacob Weitering. Key defender Caleb Marchbank hasn’t played a game in two years after consistent injuries and faces a delayed start to this pre-season after an ACL injury. Outside of those three, Carlton doesn’t have another bona-fide key defender on its list – it should be an area they look to fill come trade and draft time.
An option potentially could be to look at Daniel Talia as a delisted free agent after he was let go by the Crows.
Who they should target: Adam Cerra (Fremantle), George Hewett (Sydney), Peter Ladhams (Port Adelaide), Daniel Talia (Adelaide)
Finishing 17th on the ladder this year is the wakeup call Collingwood needs to address its playing list. While they boast some of the AFL’s highly regarded players, the need to hone in on specific areas of the field is needed.
The continued topic of discussion is that Collingwood needs a key forward, but once again it looks like it will ignore this as they strengthen its midfield. Already signing father-son Nick Daicos who will be costly to the Pies through the draft, they won’t have too much left over to spend this year.
The Western Bulldogs’ Patrick Lipinski has requested a trade to Collingwood and in terms of restructuring the midfield and forward line, the Pies would be crazy to pass up the opportunity.
At 23 years of age, the 2016 second-round draft pick has played 56 games for the Bulldogs but has struggled to cement a position in the talented line-up.
Should he join the Pies, his versatility of playing midfield and forward will be beneficial to the club who already has a selection of players in the likes of Jordan De Goey, Jamie Elliott, Callum Brown, and what looks like to also be Scott Pendlebury who will continue to play where needed.
At 190cm however, the Pies may just consider playing him alongside Brody Mihocek and Darcy Cameron in a third-tall forward position, allowing De Goey and Elliott more midfield time.
Who they should target: Patrick Lipinski (Western Bulldogs), Nathan Kreuger (Geelong)
Defying expectations, the Dons came on in leaps and bounds in 2021 with a dozen-plus players enjoying career-best years. Cale Hooker and David Zaharakis have departed, leaving skipper Dyson Heppell as the oldest regular first-team player at just 29 years of age.
This young group is intent on building a winning culture together, and those intentions are shared with General Manager Josh Mahoney who iterated his desire to hit the draft again this off-season.
Despite the young group, there remains a ‘win now’ factor at play after making finals.
The team didn’t have trouble putting a score on the board ranking fifth in the competition for goals per game, but also gave up the fifth most goals. That will be stemmed with the addition of free agent Jake Kelly from the Crows, who has the capacity to play tall or small as a shutdown defender.
In the midfield, there is constant noise around the need for a big body, and some insurance could be a good option with Jye Caldwell and Dylan Shiel dealing with injuries in 2021. Luke Dunstan would be a cheap option to add depth after his ousting from St Kilda.
The Dons were also found wanting up forward when Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was out – a goal-kicking small forward could come in to add pressure and zip, with Ben Long again raised as a potential suitor. However, the long-term play here is the 2022 draft father-son Davey twins, linked to the club through former small forward Alwyn Davey.
With Hooker retiring there could be need for a plug-and-play key forward with Harry Jones and Kaine Baldwin still developing, but it’s likely that the Dons will back Michael Hurley in to return to the game as a forward and may persevere with Aaron Francis in the forward half. The home-run addition is Ben King, but don’t expect it to happen this off-season as he comes out of contract at the end of 2022.
Who they should target: Luke Dunstan (St Kilda), Jake Kelly (Adelaide), Ben King (Gold Coast)
The Fremantle Dockers weren’t expected to do much in 2021, and while they ultimately did miss the finals finishing the season a game out of the eight, they were still in the hunt for a finals spot in Round 23.
The main priority for the Dockers will be securing a favourable trade deal for the outgoing midfielder Adam Cerra who had requested a move back to Victoria.
Carlton look to be the front runners with the side being Cerra’s preferred destination. The Blues currently hold pick six which the Dockers should trade in, which will give the club two picks inside the top 10.
With Melbourne also expressing interest in Cerra, the Dockers should make a home-coming pitch to premiership player Luke Jackson. Rory Lobb is reported to request a move away from the Dockers, so Luke Jackson would be the perfect replacement if he contemplates a move back to his home state.
The Dockers have expressed their interest again in acquiring Cats midfielder Jordan Clark, with Clark keen to return back to Western Australia. The midfielder has impressed since debuting in 2019 and would be a handy acquisition to the Dockers midfield or backline. Though currently under contract and a required player for Geelong, he won’t come cheaply with pick 27 a starting point.
Who they should target: Luke Jackson (Melbourne), Jordan Clark (Geelong)
Time is ticking for this playing group, who broke the record for most 30-year-olds in a game this season. Veterans including Joel Selwood are amping up for another tilt at a flag, but it leaves the Cats football department in a precarious position with an obvious need to plan for the future as well.
Quinton Narkle is set to be retained which is a saving grace, but the same can’t be said for Jordan Clark. Nobody would blame Charlie Constable for seeking out opportunities elsewhere either.
With Max Gawn’s five-goal haul fresh in the memory, a dependable ruckman is overdue to be brought in. Big man Nathan Kreuger is set to depart and Darcy Fort could be following him out the door. Todd Goldstein has stayed loyal to North Melbourne, and Sean Darcy also turned his back on home to sign an extension with Fremantle. Could Peter Ladhams be gettable for Geelong as he looks at his options away from Port?
Daniel Talia and Robbie Tarrant appeal as stop-gap key defenders with Lachie Henderson struggling for form late in the year, while a younger option will present in the draft with previously rookie-listed utility Blake Schlensog dominating the WAFL after departing the club.
The Cats got continually torched by small forwards with Tom Stewart forced to play lockdown roles which inhibited his incredible offensive play. At 191 centimetres, Demons defender Joel Smith can play on talls or smalls, and was desperately unlucky to miss out on the Grand Final side. His lockdown ability would be ideal if the Cats could tempt him with a flag tilt at another club.
Who they should target: Peter Ladhams (Port Adelaide), Daniel Talia (Adelaide), Joel Smith (Melbourne)
The Gold Coast Suns look so close, yet so far in terms of their list management. There’s an abundance of talent across the field and it just appears that filling in some cracks could propel the Gold Coast up the ladder.
The main priority for the Suns must be attaining a permanent partner in crime for young star forward Ben King. King received far too much attention in the Suns forward line and as the season progressed it became more difficult for him to have an impact on games.
The Suns have managed to attract the services of Richmond free agent Mabior Chol, who will step straight in as an extra tall forward and a second ruck to Jarrod Witts.
Having a relatively young squad, the Suns are reportedly ready to part with their top draft selection (currently pick three) to lure in some mature talent. Additionally, there are reports that the Adelaide sides are targeting South Australians Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine.
Further reports have suggested the possibility of a return for one of the members of the inaugural Gold Coast Suns starting 22 in Charlie Dixon. The Suns have the assets to get Dixon back the club he started his career at. Dixon would immediately take over as the leading man in the Suns forward line and allow King to develop his craft.
Rory Lobb wants to leave Fremantle, happy to take a three-year deal on less money to move clubs. The key forward suits the criteria for what the Suns need.
Who They Should Target: Mabior Chol (Richmond), Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide), Rory Lobb (Fremantle)
Tipped to drop off in 2021, the Giants exceeded expectations by making a late charge for the finals and eventually bowing out in the semi finals to the Cats.
Possessing a young and exciting list, the Giants youth should hold them in good stead in years to come and instead of recruiting from the other 17 clubs, their focus will largely be on the upcoming draft as they’ll look to add to their youthful squad.
One area they could look to strengthen is their depth in defence with Phil Davis currently out of contract and towards the end of his career, Matt Buntine delisted, and both Jack Buckley and Lachlan Keeffe recovering from injury.
Delisted Crows defender Daniel Talia would be a reliable acquisition who would bring experience to a young Giants defence; similarly delisted Hawks defender Michael Hartley could also add depth.
Who they should target: Daniel Talia (Adelaide), Michael Hartley (Hawthorn)
A late charge in the season left Hawthorn just outside of the bottom four as they head in the 2022 season with plenty of optimism.
While this year’s Peter Crimmins Medallist Tom Mitchell was open to move away from the club in the middle of the year, it looks like the midfielder will be staying at Waverley, supporting new coach Sam Mitchell as the club continues its rebuild. Veteran forward Jack Gunston was also rumoured to move on, linked to a move up north to the Brisbane Lions, but he too looks like he’ll be staying put.
With three picks inside the top 30 (5, 21, 24), the Hawks have their biggest opportunity in recent years to recruit high-end talent in the draft.
With Hawks ruck duo of Ben McEvoy (32 years of age) and Jonathon Ceglar (30) now in the back end of their careers, the Hawks should also be looking to add to their ruck stocks to fill the void for when they move on. The Hawks were linked to Collingwood ruck-forward Max Lynch earlier in the season, and the out-of-favour Pie could come to the Hawks cheaply due to his expired contract.
Port ruckman Peter Ladhams has been told he should consider a move away despite still being contracted, and if the Hawks could work out the right deal, Ladhams could also be a handy acquisition.
Additionally, the Hawks should be looking to add talent to its midfield which struggled to influence games throughout the 2021 season. While Carlton are currently front runners for Dockers midfielder Adam Cerra who wants a move back to Victoria, the Hawks should keep their name in the hat in case a deal can’t be struck.
The club could also re-spark its interest in Giants captain Steven Coniglio, which could re-energise the midfielder after injury and poor form.
Who they should target: Max Lynch (Collingwood), Peter Ladhams (Port Adelaide), Adam Cerra (Fremantle), Steven Coniglio (GWS)
Fresh off winning the 2021 AFL Premiership, there aren’t many holes in the Demons list that need addressing.
The addition of Ben Brown was a masterstroke by the Demons list manager, and short of another mature-aged talent with runs on the board similar to Brown, we can’t imagine the Demons will look to bring in too much talent from other teams.
Jake Riccardi is one man the Demons could move on given their tall forward age demographic, but unless the Dees pull a left-field move we anticipate their 2021 off-season to be extremely uneventful.
Who They Should Target: Jake Riccardi (GWS)
North Melbourne improved in the second half of the season and will take plenty of optimism into 2022.
The Kangaroos are armed with the number one draft pick, which they are almost certain to use on draft day and it would take a mammoth offer for them to part with it otherwise.
Emerging Richmond forward Callum Coleman-Jones is reportedly set to join the Kangaroos but veteran defender Robbie Tarrant is set to head the other way to Punt Road.
North will secure the services of former Crow Tom Lynch, but whether that is in a coaching or playing capacity is yet to be determined.
The futures of Trent Dumont, Shaun Atley and Jared Polec remain up in the air, with Dumont linked to a return to South Australia.
North could look to delisted Crow, Daniel Talia as a short- term replacement for Tarrant, while Ben McKay continues his encouraging development. Contracted Port Adelaide defender, Tom Clurey, would also be a very handy acquisition if the Roos were able to prise him away from Alberton.
Who they should target: Callum Coleman-Jones (Richmond), Daniel Talia (Adelaide), Tom Clurey (Port Adelaide)
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A dismal end to 2022 sees the Power as a potentially big player in the upcoming trade period as it attempts to capitalise on its premiership window.
There’s some money floating around Alberton after the departures of Tom Rockliff and Hamish Hartlett, and the club will have one eye on a big splash after missing out on Jordan Dawson.
Could the midfield be bolstered with another superstar alongside Travis Boak and Brownlow Medallist Ollie Wines?
Tom Mitchell has been thrown into trade discussions, and although he looks likely to be staying put at Hawthorn, he would be tempted by the allure of success with Port. That midfield trio immediately throws Port Adelaide back into contention. The budget alternative could be Luke Dunstan, who would add contested ball winning and gut running.
Another big splash that could be made comes from up North, with South Australian duo Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius coming out of contract at the end of 2022. The temptation to go home will be there, and Port Adelaide can offer success and money right now.
At the other end of his career, Daniel Talia may be keen to continue his journey in South Australia. Key defenders haven’t been an issue for the Power, but Talia could foreseeably jump Tom Clurey and Trent McKenzie in the depth chart to become an integral component of the back six. Alternatively, a Tyson Goldsack-esque arrangement could be made for the veteran defender who possesses a decade of experience.
Giant Jeremy Finlayson has reportedly toured the club’s facilities, and Tim O’Brien has been linked to Alberton with ruck-forward Peter Ladhams told to look at his options this off-season.
Who They Should Target: Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn), Luke Dunstan (St Kilda), Jack Lukosius (Gold Coast), Daniel Talia (Adelaide)
After virtually laying dormant in recent seasons, it appears that Richmond will be more active during this year’s trade period.
On the back of missing finals for the first time since 2016, the Tigers will be looking to address a few obvious weaknesses in order to show the competition they’re not out of contention in 2022.
In fact, the club seems to be inclined to do business early.
Following the retirement of triple premiership defender David Astbury, it has been reported that unrestricted free agent Robbie Tarrant will cross from North Melbourne on a two year deal, complicating the Callum Coleman-Jones free agency compensation.
The role of fellow retiree Bachar Houli will almost certainly be filled internally. Both Daniel Rioli and Sydney Stack have shown an ability to provide run and carry from the half-back line.
At the other end of the ground, 2021 mid-season draftee Matthew Parker has signed a one year deal to remain at Punt Road. In his six games at AFL level, the 25 year old’s ability to apply forward pressure (29 tackles) stood out in a team built on the mantra ‘run and chase’.
However, this will not be enough to fill depleted forwardline depth, with news that talls Coleman-Jones and Mabior Chol will be leaving for North Melbourne and Gold Coast respectively.
With a strong draft hand already, it is not unlikely that Richmond could attempt to trade their way up the draft board to gain access to a young key forward.
Who they should target: Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne), Higher draft pick
The Saints have been very active at the trade table over the last couple of seasons and if they are to rebound back into the top eight in 2022 they will need to be again.
The major area the Saints need to focus on is with the talls all over the ground after delisting Oscar Clavarino and Sam Alabakis as well as the retirement of James Frawley.
In the short-term, the Saints are in desperate need of another key tall in defence to help out the likes of Dougal Howard, Callum Wilkie and Nick Coffield. With experienced defenders on the market there is no shortage of options.
Adelaide’s Daniel Talia would be a perfect addition for the Saints and his experience could prove to be invaluable, while Port Adelaide’s Tom Clurey could be another pick-up if he decides to explore his options.
With 2022 possibly being his last season, the Saints will need to start planning for life after Paddy Ryder and former Port Adelaide teammate Peter Ladhams could be the perfect replacement.
Ladhams has proven himself as a threat up forward and while he is reportedly looking to spend more time in the ruck he and Rowan Marshall could provide a unique challenge for clubs in the future.
After some injuries to key midfielders in 2021, the Saints could use some extra class in the middle, but with less options on the open market this season they could find a star of the future in the draft.
Who they should target: Peter Ladhams, Tom Clurey (Port Adelaide), Daniel Talia (Adelaide), top 25 draft picks.
Sydney took the competition by surprise in 2021 with its return to the finals but it is already set to lose two members from that elimination final team. Jordan Dawson has made it known he wishes to go to Adelaide, while George Hewett is tipped to go to Carlton.
While Sydney is unlikely to garner any significant compensation for Hewett (being a free agent), getting adequate compensation for Dawson will likely be the Swans first priority in the trade period.
A young ruckman, such as Peter Ladhams from Port Adelaide could help fill the gap should Tom Hickey (31 years of age in 2022) and Callum Sinclair (32 in 2022) retire sooner rather than later, and support the existing young ruck stocks of Hayden McLean and Joel Amartey.
If Daniel Talia remains available, the Swans should at least ask the question. Although 29, with questions about his knees, his experience and credentials would be handy support for emerging young defenders Tom McCartin and Will Gould.
Who they should target: Peter Ladhams (Port Adelaide), Daniel Talia (Adelaide)
West Coast is in a precarious position heading into the 2021 off-season. Huge contracts for premiership stars and trades involving future picks has left the Eagles hamstrung in terms of list management decisions.
Pick 6 from the 2016 draft, Sam Petrevski-Seton is expected to land in the west this off-season, but unless the Eagles are prepared to offload stars they currently have on their list, no players of note will be in the blue and gold next season.
Its midfield could use depth given the injury history of stars Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo, so the cut-price Luke Dunstan could appeal in delisted free agency.
Who they should target: Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carlton), Luke Dunstan (St Kilda)
Although the Bulldogs made the Grand Final, there are a few holes across the field that they will need to fill to back up challenging for the premiership in 2022.
Earlier in the season the dogs proved how dangerous the combination of Tim English and Stefan Martin was, allowing English to dominate up forward but once Martin went down with a string of injuries the ruck was an obvious void that the Bulldogs needed filling.
Port Adelaide’s Peter Ladhams would be a good fit for the Bulldogs, being able to share the ruck duties with English. With Ladhams only being 23 years old and English being 24 that combination can be one that the Bulldogs can look forward to for many years to come.
Another area of the ground that the Bulldogs need to strengthen is their backline, with Alex Keath going down with a hamstring in the clash against Melbourne in Round 19, when the dogs came up against Essendon without Keath it allowed Peter Wright to kick seven goals.
The Bulldogs need to bring another key defender to support Alex Keath going into next season. Key defender Tom Clurey became out of favour at the Power towards the end of the season, although contracted until the end of 2023, he’s a proven lockdown defender and with the likes of Trent McKenzie cementing his spot in the Port Adelaide back six, a move could be in best interest of both parties.
Who they should target: Peter Ladhams (Port Adelaide), Tom Clurey (Port Adelaide)
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