Draft Picks: 1, 24, 25, 65, 73, 91, 109 (Priority pick possibly 4, 11 or 19 depending on application)
Out of Contract: Kade Simpson, Sam Kerridge, Jed Lamb, Sam Rowe, Aaron Mullett, Cam O’Shea, Nicholas Graham, Jarrod Pickett, Matthew Shaw (rookie), Dale Thomas, Jesse Glass-McCasker (rookie), Kym Lebois (rookie), Matthew Wright, Alex Silvagni (already retired).
Much has been made of comments from coach, Brendon Bolton questioning whether the mass cull undertaken at the end of season 2017 was the appropriate action to take, and that subsequently, a minimalist approach will be taken to the list cull at season’s end despite only two wins for the season. The argument is a reasonable one. Less than half the list were at the club prior to Bolton’s arrival, and have subsequently played very little game time together. Would the departed Simon White, Rhys Palmer and Billie Smedts have provided any less than Matt Shaw, Aaron Mullett and Cam O’Shea this season?
It has also been suggested by new CEO, Cain Liddle that the club had close to $3 million in the cap to spend for season 2019, resulting from being one of the first clubs to be able to pay below the minimum 85% of the salary cap, and push the remaining balance over to the next season. Whilst this amount was touted prior to the re-signings of Charlie Curnow and Patrick Cripps, it remains one of the biggest warchests in the competition.
Reports from the club suggest that Kade Simpson, Dale Thomas and Matthew Wright will all go around again in season 2019, with public comments from Bolton and the aforementioned players appear to suggest this is a given.
It would be surprising to see Jarrod Pickett not provided at least a one-year extension. The former #4 draft pick has had a rough run with injury and surely the Blues would want to see what Pickett can do with a full pre-season under his belt.
From here, I suspect it will depend largely on what talent can be acquired through free agency, or perhaps putting Pick 1 or their potentially acquired priority pick on the market.
A Dylan Shiel acquisition probably seals the fate of Nick Graham and Sam Kerridge out of IKON Park, whilst Mitch McGovern crossing the border puts Cam O’Shea in real jeopardy. Do the Blues delist Sam Rowe, with a view to re-rookie and occupy the spot vacated by Alex Silvagni? If Luke Dahlhaus were to leave the Whitten Oval, Jed Lamb and Aaron Mullet’s position become a lot less secure despite featuring in the majority of matches for the Blues this season also.
Another pressing issue is how little senior talent the Blues can bring to the trade table this year. It would appear that Levi Casboult would be preferred at another club, but the Blues have struggled to find a home for the key forward the past three seasons with far better seasons than the one he endured this year. It is anticipated that the Suns would view him as a replacement for departing skipper, Tom Lynch, but it remains to be seen what the Suns would be willing to part with to seal the deal. Earlier in the season, much was said about the Blues’ interest in Will Brodie and Jack Scrimshaw. Both first round draft choices, a swap for Casboult would be grossly against the best interests of the Suns, but a draft pick or two could seal a deal there.
David Cuningham still has a year to run on his contract, but the former pick #23 has only featured in five games this season, plagued by soft tissue injuries in the back end of the season, after struggling to convince the match committee to back him in early on in the season. After a few exciting games last season that saw a Rising Star nomination come his way, it’s plausible that teams would see value in his outside run and carry.
The Blues have also been linked to out of favour Collingwood forward, Alex Fasolo and top GWS draft pick, Will Setterfield. Whilst Setterfield could still end up at IKON Park as part of a potential deal for Dylan Shiel, it appears difficult to see a trade eventuating otherwise. Whilst Fasolo would be a free signing for the Blues, it would be more than likely at above market rates for a forward who has at times struggled in the VFL this season. Would it be preferable to attempt to further the synergy of the existing group and retain Jed Lamb on a portion of the salary instead?
Whilst Matthew Kreuzer has another year to run on his contract, numerous injuries and health concerns have presented this year on top of a long history for the former #1 draft pick. Is it possible that the Blues’ workhorse pulls the pin? Or perhaps do they look to part ways, given the potential shown by Tom de Koning and Andrew Phillips, and the safe pair of hands of Matthew Lobbe in reserve? With no shortage of teams wanting a ruckman, or in the case of West Coast, after a stop gap of some quality whilst Nic Naitanui is unavailable and the premiership window wide open, I don’t think this scenario is out of the question.
I suspect the Blues’ trading strategy will also look to use their late 20s draft picks to either be bundled up and move up the draft order, or if spots on the list become tight, trading for future picks for next year. With plenty of teams having highly touted father/son and academy players on the radar this year, this favourite Silvagni strategy will certainly be on the agenda.
For example, Will Blakey has committed to the Sydney Swans as an academy player. Assuming the Blues are granted an end of first round priority pick, trading that pick along with picks 28 and 29 for Sydney’s first round pick (currently 15), pick 36 and their second round pick next year would boost Sydney’s available points to land Blakey, and push Carlton up the draft order and the headache of creating another list spot deferred for another season. Given the debate as to where the appropriate place a priority pick for the Blues would be, such a trade artificially pushing the Blues into the top 15 may be subtly agitated for by the powers that be at AFL House behind the scenes.
The Blues’ trade period will undoubtedly have ripple effects for 17 other sides. Whether they choose to retain pick 1 or not will not be due to the lack of efforts from every other club trying to pry it away. They genuinely believe themselves a chance to land Dylan Shiel and Mitch McGovern, and with the return of Sam Docherty to the side, a quick-fix towards restoring pride and respect at the club may be the aim.
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