With the trade period all wrapped up, there have been some big-name acquisitions and bargain buys heading into 2021.
Some are expected to play major roles at their new sides while others could be perfect role players.
We look at every player who arrived at a new club during the trade period and assess what they could bring to their team next year.
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Jackson Hately — They’ll pick him up in the pre-season draft without a doubt. Been mainly used as a winger and half-forward in his 13 games for the Giants but wants more time as an inside midfielder, which he will no doubt get given the departure of Brad Crouch. Much like Jye Caldwell, it’s hard to get a massive read on how well he can do given he’s still just 20 years of age and has been starved of regular opportunity.
Joe Daniher — First thing is first: Joe needs to get on the park. Should he and the medical team manage that, he provides a full forward focal point that the Lions have not had consistently. We know what his best offers based on his 65-goal, best and fairest winning 2017 season. He has the ability to take the Lions at least one further than their preliminary final loss this year.
Nakia Cockatoo — Like Daniher to a lesser extent, Cockatoo looks a prodigious, gamebreaking talent that hasn’t been able to get on the park regularly. He may’ve only played 39 games since being taken with Pick 10 in the 2014 draft, but he has shown more than enough in those performances to suggest he could prove the steal of the trade period if he gets up and going. Now-former teammate Patrick Dangerfield offered perhaps the biggest endorsement for Cockatoo at the start of 2020: “He’s going to be one of the biggest differences that we have this year. He’s been perennially injured for the last few years, but he’s an athlete and there’s very few like him in the competition.”
Zac Williams — He’s a linebreaker and a great pick-up, but the biggest question will be how he performs as a full-time midfielder. He has shown promise during his short stints there during his time at the Giants, but doing it consistently will be the thing to watch. There’s no denying the absolute class he offers by foot and his ambitious style of play was crucial to GWS’ ability to counter-attack when they were up and going. If his endurance holds up, he’ll be a big addition when combined with the next recruit on this list.
Adam Saad — He may’ve missed out on All-Australian selection this year, but Saad was picked in Champion Data’s stats-based team of the year, underscoring how important he has been at the Bombers. Ranked elite in the competition for ranking points, disposals, uncontested possessions and metres gained. Slotting into Carlton’s defensive setup will not only be a huge boost for the team overall, but specifically Sam Docherty. The gun defender burst out of the blocks in 2020 but teams began playing a defensive tag on him and hindered his output. Having Saad in the side will do wonders for Docherty and hopefully for Blues fans in 2021.
Lachie Fogarty – Struggled for game time after an impressive debut year at Geelong, where the 2017 Pick 22 managed fifteen of his total 23 games for the Cats. A forward-midfielder who has ambitions to become a full-time mid, which would help bolster Carlton’s engine room. Hopefully he can put his injury struggles behind him and add some more grunt to the Blues line-up given his class in the contested possession and tackling departments, which he is rated ‘above average’ for.
Collingwood didn’t bring in any players via trade.
Peter Wright — It’s tough to predict what exactly we’ll see from Two Metre Peter in 2021. Three years ago, he was rated by Champion Data as the best 20-year-old in the competition and ahead of Jeremy Cameron, Taylor Walker and Jesse Hogan’s output when they were the same age. He has a stack of potential and is just 24-years-old, but couldn’t get a game in 2020 with the Suns, so perhaps expectations need to be tempered. He seems a direct replacement for Joe Daniher in terms of role, with Matthew Lloyd saying a minimum of a goal a game should be expected.
Jye Caldwell – You’d think Caldwell should thrive on more midfield time at Essendon. The 20-year-old managed just nine games for the Giants in 2020 but boasts an above-average rating for contested possessions, ground ball gets and pressure acts. His disposal and clearance numbers are less impressive, but he’ll be getting a lot more of a look-in at the Bombers than he was able to get at GWS. Won’t come in and immediately change the dynamic of the team, but he’s a former Pick 11 and the Bombers have got him in the door for the long-term.
Nick Hind — Should have an immediate impact given he is 26. It will be interesting to see where he plays given he was a gun half-back at VFL level before playing as a small forward with the Saints’ senior side. Adam Saad’s departure could suggest Hind would at least be tried in the defensive half. In any case, little risk associated with the trade given it was for a swap of very late picks.
Fremantle didn’t bring in any players via trade.
Jeremy Cameron — Crazy to think a team that played off in a grand final is adding the 2019 Coleman Medallist to its line-up, which includes the 2020 Coleman Medallist. They gave up a hell of a lot to get him, but they’ve got themselves even closer to a flag by doing so. A 76-goal return in 2019 was followed by a poor 2020 campaign, with Cameron himself admitting he could’ve handled hub life better. On paper, it does look like he fits in perfectly at Geelong, with Tom Hawkins being a genuine full-forward allowing Cameron to push up the ground as he likes to do. In all likelihood, he’s going to get the second-best defender consistently for the first time in his AFL career. Hard to understate how huge his addition could be to Geelong given how bereft of key forward support Tom Hawkins has been for so many years.
Shaun Higgins — Even when moved out of the midfield, where he has played his best footy for North Melbourne, Higgins still offered plenty in a side that was struggling in a big way this season. He ranked elite for disposals, uncontested possessions and metres gained while being above average for clearances and pressure acts. As smooth a mover as there is in the game and could slot straight into the forward hybrid role Gary Ablett has vacated. He should have at least one more good year left in him, so he bolsters the Cats’ premiership credentials in 2021.
Isaac Smith – Not often you see a Hawthorn player move down the highway or vice-versa, but 2020 continues to surprise. Like Higgins, you feel like Smith has one great year left in him with the possibility to eek out a second. A bona fide wingman who can compliment Sam Menegola and adds some much, much-needed speed to the line-up. His use going inside 50 is going to be poetry in motion for Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron.
Rory Atkins — Atkins may hope his move to the Suns bears fruit like former teammate Hugh Greenwood’s did at the end of last year. Played 101 games for Adelaide and should add some more pace to the side and class kicking.
Oleg Markov— Will come in and fill a void at half-back, replacing Pearce Hanley while also allowing for a smooth transition when Jarrod Harbrow finishes up. Hard to see both he and Atkins adding a whole heap to the side, but they both fulfil roles that the Suns were looking to address.
Jesse Hogan — Yes, Hogan’s acquisition is hopeful at best, but it came for not much of a cost at all in terms of picks. Hopefully a fresh start in a new state helps him, because the whole competition knows and has seen how good he can be. Interestingly, even though he managed only seven games in 2020, he was rated elite for uncontested possessions, marks and forward-50 ground ball gets and above average for score assists and disposals, so it’s not like he didn’t show anything at all. The Giants needed someone to come in and at least try fill the Jeremy Cameron size hole in their forward line, so Hogan comes in for what you think is his last chance at AFL level.
Braydon Preuss – The Giants desperately needed a ruckman and they’ve got just that as Braydon Preuss comes to his third AFL club. Unlike North Melbourne and Melbourne though, this time he is not behind a runaway number one ruck option. The spot is his for the taking and he is going to be given a lot of responsibility. He’s 25, so as a ruckman he’s nearing his prime years – his hit-outs to advantage are rated above average and that will be a crucial component of his game given the quality of midfielders he has to tap down to. A fit and firing Preuss could do big things for the Giants.
Tom Phillips — Hard to think of a more clear-cut ‘one in, one out’ trade period move as Tom Phillips coming in after the departure of Isaac Smith. You’d suspect he slots straight into that role on the wing, which is where Phillips has played his best footy. At 24 years of age too he fits into their development timeline, whereas Smith wouldn’t have been around for their next premiership. You never want to lose a player the calibre of Smith, but getting Phillips for just Pick 65 is a massive get for the Hawks and one that could bode well for their long-term development.
Kyle Hartigan — Will offer some much-needed support down back with the retirement of James Frawley and absence of James Sicily in 2021. Played 113 games for the Crows and at 28 years of age should play long enough to help usher in a new wave of defenders at the club. A very need-based recruitment and cost the Hawks nothing trade-wise as an unrestricted free agent.
Ben Brown — He has the capacity to take the Dees to the next level. For so long Melbourne fans have watched as a rampant midfield outfit’s work was wasted as their forwards couldn’t put together a good run of elite form or provide a consistent target. Ben Brown is exactly the type of player the Dees need to channel their attack through. His 2020 season was well, well below par, but he wasn’t the only one in the competition in that regard. It’d be brave to bet against a man who kicked at least 60 goals for three years straight. The flow-on effect is that it gives Sam Weideman and Bailey Fritsch more room to move.
Aidan Corr — Last year it was Aiden with ‘e’, this year Aidan with an ‘a’! Corr will bolster their defence and provide some rock-solid support there as the team undergoes significant turnover. Statistically he’s coming off a very promising year, achieving career-highs in several categories. It’s not the lavish big-name recruit like Dustin Martin and Josh Kelly who they’ve chased in the past, but it’s a practical one.
Jaidyn Stephenson – Has the potential to be a bargain buy for the Roos. Certainly hasn’t had a year to remember but he’s 21-years-old and is in a perfect demographic to grow with a rebuilding North Melbourne list. Seems a lifetime ago that he played 26 games and kicked 38 goals in his debut season, but that’s what he’s capable of and a fresh start with no baggage at the Kangaroos could be exactly what he needs. If he hits his stride in 2021, Collingwood fans will have even more reason to fume at their club’s trade decisions.
Atu Bosenavulagi – Like Stephenson, adds some pace and dare to the North Melbourne forward line. It’s hard to get hyped up about him given he has played just the three senior games, but he won’t be starved of opportunity at the Kangaroos and that should aid his development significantly.
Lachie Young – With Stephenson and Bosenavulagi adding some pace up in the forward half, Young will do similar in defence. Again, hard to say too much about someone who has played just the eight games of senior footy, but at 21 years of age he also slots into the Kangaroos’ demographic very nicely. Has the ability to provide some good rebounding scoring chains if he continues to develop his game.
Aliir Aliir – At 26-years-old he comes in at the peak of his physical powers and bodes well for Port Adelaide’s push for a flag. He’s an all-in-one player given his ability to play at various parts of the ground and will slot in nicely for the retired Justin Westhoff. His intercepting ability and willingness to take the game on probably works better in Port Adelaide’s setup than Sydney’s. A future-second rounder for Port is unders given they’re likely to finish near the top of the ladder.
Orazio Fantasia – We’ve seen what he’s like at his best and you’d have to say up forward is the go for him rather than the defensive role he often played for the Bombers during his five games in 2020. In 2017 and 2018, he ranked fifth and third respectively in AFL Player Ratings for general forwards. If his body is right and his commitment sound, he could add yet another dimension to a potent Port Adelaide forward line.
No players were traded to the Tigers.
Brad Crouch — He didn’t get as much footy as he usually did in an injury-interrupted 2020, but his contested possessions and clearances were up, which is exactly what the Saints will be hoping he brings. More midfield depth has been key to the side’s development and they sold the club beautifully to Crouch and then didn’t blink at the trade table and in doing so forcing the Crows to back down from matching their offer. Sure, there are knocks against how much damage he actually does with the footy, but you won’t get many complaints from the likes of Jack Steele and Zak Jones who have just got another high-quality midfielder to back them up.
Jack Higgins — We saw the Saints take a Richmond small forward and turn him into gold with Dan Butler this year, so the precedent is there for Jack Higgins to do similar. Still, if Higgins performs well in 2021 it won;t be as much of a shock as Butler perhaps was – in the 10 matches he played in 2020, Higgins ranked elite for disposals and was above average for forward 50 ground ball gets, marks and score involvements. Plenty to offer.
Shaun McKernan – The Saints were initially being spoken about as potential suitors for Ben Brown to help back up Max King, but McKernan can perform that role more than capably if required. Has a one-year contract at the moment but just needs to reach 10 games to trigger a second year, which should be plenty of time to provide support to King as he develops.
Tom Hickey — The Swans’ biggest priority in the trade period was securing some more ruck depth and they did just that with Tom Hickey’s acquisition. Hopefully offers more consistency for Sydney in an area where they’ve struggled for some time now.
WEST COAST EAGLES
Alex Witherden — Didn’t have to give up a hell of a lot to get Witherden across and the 22-year-old is a great option to provide cover once Shannon Hurn hangs up the boots. His ability by foot is also conducive to the Eagles’ game style. He’s a very good pick-up, particularly at the price the Eagles were able to secure him for.
Zac Langdon – A bargain buy for the Eagles, having to give up just Pick 54 for the 25-year-old. Adds pressure and endurance in the forward line and can come in and help the Eagles fill the Willie Rioli void that has been there for sometime. He also allows Liam Ryan to move further up the field when needed, which paid dividends in the backhalf of 2020.
MORE AFL TRADE NEWS:
AFL TRADE GRADES: Contenders go all-in, some for cheap; Fire sale baffles footy world
TRADE TRACKER: See every done deal and signed AFL free agent
OFF-SEASON CENTRAL: Every club’s draft pick
EARLY TRADE WINNERS AND LOSERS: Take a bow, Bulldogs – but this is a Pies disaster
EVERY PLAYER, PICK AND DEAL: What your club has done this AFL trade period
Adam Treloar — Elite for disposals, elite for contested possessions, elite for clearances. He’s 27 and has had some injury struggles, but he is a huge pick-up for the Western Bulldogs given how little they’ve had to give up and he’ll join Josh Dunkley given his trade request wasn’t honoured. Plenty has been said about his ability, so there isn’t much more we can say that you don’t already know. Good luck stopping the Dogs midfield.
Stefan Martin — The Dogs needed another tall to help out Tim English and they’ve got one. English’s time up forward has been promising while Martin is more than capable of winning ruck battles in 2021, so it is a shrewd move from Sam Power and the recruiting staff. It could in theory allow Aaron Naughton to spend some time in the defensive half at stages when needed. A great pick-up who along with Treloar will have immediate impact.
Mitch Hannan – Most Dees fans rate Hannan very, very highly and were sad to see him go. He’ll add to that Bulldogs pressure game around the footy and has plenty of ability to hit the scoreboard when needed. Should slot in very nicely at the Dogs.