The reigning premiers were the team to beat in the first half of 2022, winning their opening 10 games and were the firm premiership favourite.

However, three consecutive losses between Rounds 11-13 and inconsistent form has seen them slip to third, two wins away from ladder leaders Geelong.

Despite this, at their best, they are still the best in the competition and no one will count them out from achieving premiership glory despite the blip in form.

The Dees have a knack for making all their players vital cogs in a team where everyone has and knows their roles, and will no doubt look for further AFL-ready depth for their 2023 side, as they did with ex-Saint Luke Dunstan.

One area of concern is their forward line stocks, with Sam Weideman out of favour and Mitch Brown out of contract at season's end.

Ben Brown has been ever present since crossing from North Melbourne at the end of 2020, while Tom McDonald has struggled with injury and form in recent years.

Star half-back/midfielder Angus Brayshaw was subject to intense speculation about his future as a free agent before signing a massive six-year deal to stay at the Dees.

But young West Australian star ruckman Luke Jackson appears set to request a move to Fremantle for 2023, leaving their big man stocks quite thin.

So we've compiled a list of five players who the Demons could target this off-season to bolster their already star-studded squad in 2023.

TRADE TARGETS: ADELAIDE, BRISBANE, CARLTON, COLLINGWOOD, ESSENDON, FREMANTLE, GEELONG, GWS, HAWTHORN

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1. Jack Gunston (Hawthorn)

There is uncertainty around Hawthorn champion Jack Gunston's future beyond 2022, with the 30-year-old still unsigned heading into the final two rounds of the season.

Gunston is an unrestricted free agent this year, meaning he is free to move where he wishes and Melbourne could be the perfect landing spot.

Fresh off a five-goal performance against Gold Coast on the weekend, Gunston continues to remind us of his remarkable talents despite not producing the same numbers he was in past seasons.

As reliable as they come, Gunston could slot in perfectly as second fiddle to Ben Brown and/or Tom McDonald as a more mobile tall, while also having the ability to work alongside deadeye Bayley Fritsch.

The 2018 All-Australian has kicked 26 goals in 14 games for the Hawks this year and might wish to push for immediate success elsewhere this off-season.

We've seen the success of former teammate Isaac Smith at the Cattery, with the wingman becoming a regular in the side as they prepare for yet another premiership push and Gunston might want to emulate something similar.

In the end, it's Gunston's decision but Melbourne should be asking the question and offering him off-season success to help bolster their tall forward stocks in 2023.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 04: Jack Gunston of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2019 AFL round 07 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 04, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)
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