Carlton signalled to the rest of the competition that their time without threatening finals is done with one of the biggest hauls of the trade period and a quietly successful draft.
The club also swept clean the washouts of the Stephen Silvagni era and farewelled a pair of club greats.
One of the worst-kept secrets during the season was that Zac Williams wanted in at Carlton during free agency and Greater Western Sydney did not match the offer once the period opened – believed to be over $5 million if he meets incentives – instead collecting the mid-first-round compensation pick.
Williams is a tough rebounding defender, but the Blues want to play him through the middle. The happy medium for 2021 will see him getting midfield minutes while playing a defensive role, which if they can get the balance right will give them new dimensions in two places they’re required.
Adam Saad was another early rumour that gained ground as the trade period drew closer, yet the back and forth between Essendon and Carlton (who before last season hadn’t traded anyone between them since 2003) dragged. On the second last day, Carlton managed to squeeze Pick 48 in addition to Saad for Pick 8 plus a swap of late picks.
Saad goes some way toward replacing the retired Kade Simpson, although he’s another who has expressed a desire to play in the midfield, so preseason is going be interesting to see if the selectors go with best players to fit their gameplan or best 22 players with some playing out of position.
The other player trade that had draft implications was trading Picks 30 and 51 for Lachie Fogarty and pick 38 from Geelong, which was comparatively cheap for a young-blooded small forward from a quality club and it effectively only meant a slide of eight places in the draft order (on draft night it was reduced to five places with picks in the mid-30s being extinguished by bid matching).
Carlton followed up their first trade period with a judicious pick swap that saw them trade Pick 48 to Sydney and their future third to the Gold Coast, with Sydney giving their Pick 31 to Carlton, while the Suns gave their Pick 37 to the Swans.
The Blues end up picking twice late in the second round of the actual draft, taking South Australian small forward Corey Durdin and Western Australian draft slider Jack Carroll.
Then the Blues passed out of the main draft and went to the rookie draft to select Glenelg product Luke Parks.
Durdin is joining the race to replace Eddie Betts, but he also offers something as a small mid and cut his teeth in the SANFL in 2020.
Carroll is already among the tallest in Carlton’s midfield and he hasn’t even turned 18, so look for him to keep growing and building as he recovers from a season-ending wrist injury.
Parks is a Swans Academy graduate (the fourth taken in this year’s draft), but after missing last year’s draft, the midfielder tried his luck in the SANFL and succeeded in getting onto an AFL list.
The Blues addressed their needs by getting a pair of 100-plus gamers and four youngsters with senior experience who can compete in training immediately.
Ten players have left the club and with six new players, Carlton has gone in with the minimum 36 on their primary list, leaving them well-positioned to draft in help before or during the season, otherwise saving on cap space for the 2021 draft.
Carlton’s rebuild must now be close to complete if they are going to play finals while the last of their ageing veterans are still on the list. The club has gone to the trade table again for their current 16th player, which is a third of their list, relying on a strong group of under 25 draftees to produce a winning season.
They are now all in: win or watch the stalwarts retire.