Carlton endured a frustrating season in 2021. A year that promised for a potential finals berth fell short with the Blues finishing a disappointing 13th with just eight wins to their name.
The Blues were only able to beat one team inside the eight throughout the year, and that was against Essendon, and despite strong showings against quality teams like the Bulldogs and the Lions, they faded away late in those fixtures to lose by narrow margins.
The media buzz and scrutiny of head coach David Teague didn't help the club either, as it served as a distraction to the playing group and was evident on the field in the back end of the season.
Star recruits in Zac Williams and Adam Saad were underwhelming for portions of the season, while key defender Liam Jones recently retired only to open more holes in the Blues' defence.
Carlton were able to secure young and skilled onballer Adam Cerra from Fremantle, which will help their midfield depth, and the appointment of Michael Voss as head coach shows promising signs for 2022.
As the Blues look ahead to 2022 with lots of promise, which player could Carlton hypothetically steal from another club in order to turn that promise into reality?
- If your team could steal one player: Adelaide Crows
- If your team could steal one player: Brisbane Lions
Gaps in best 22
A big weakness that could be improved for the Blues is adding to their ruck stocks. Marc Pittonet has been decent for the Blues in recent times but doesn't make enough impact around the ground.
Tom de Koning is a promising young ruck/key-forward but needs more time to develop his body as his frame is quite light compared to the star ruckmen of the competition.
A quality ruckman would allow the talented Blues midfield brigade to flourish, with good supply and first use to midfielders such as Sam Walsh, Patrick Cripps and Cerra poising as a deadly combination, and would be a scary threat to the opposition.
Following the retirement of key defender Jones, the Blues are in need of a tall defender to fill the void.
Another key backman would allow Jacob Weitering to be able to lock down the opposition's best key forward as he does so well.
Carlton's main weakness in 2021 was leaking too many goals in games, and especially goals in succession, so fixing that part of the ground would be a big priority for Voss and his team heading into 2022.
The Blues are also desperately in need of a small/medium forward as the retirement of Eddie Betts and the delisting of Michael Gibbons leaves the Blues shorthanded in that area.
Zac Fisher can go down forward and provide some pressure and goal presence, whilst Matt Owies, Josh Honey and Lachie Fogarty provide sparks of talent inside the forward 50.
The drafting of livewire forward Jesse Motlop highlights the Blues' intentions to fill the small forward role that Betts left, but an experienced and skilled small/medium forward would be a handy addition for the Blues aspirations in 2022.
Candidates to steal
Option 1: Max Gawn
Gawn is the premier ruckman in the competition, averaging 32 hit-outs and 18 disposals per game.
The big Demon has been able to connect well with Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca at Melbourne, so he'd have little problem tapping it down to the likes of Sam Walsh and Patrick Cripps.
The addition of Gawn would take Carlton's midfield to be considered among the best in the competition due to his ability to find his teammates at the centre bounce, find the footy around the ground and also go forward and hit the scoreboard.
Option 2: Toby Greene
Greene would be the perfect medium forward to match the Blues' desires.
The GWS superstar plays taller than he is, and can crumb the ball from a marking contest like no other.
Arguably the most impactful player in the competition, Greene would make Carlton's forward line extremely hard to defend, with the likes of Harry McKay, Charlie Curnow and Jack Martin in attack.
Greene could even pinch into the Blues midfield to relieve Patrick Cripps, or to put Adam Cerra onto the wing, so he'd be a flexible option for the Blues.
Option 3: Tom Stewart
Tom Stewart would act as a replacement for Liam Jones in defence, and would be a solid upgrade from Jones, as the Cats best and fairest has become one of the leading defenders in the competition.
With his intercept marking one of many strong highlights in his defensive ability, and his attacking play from the back 50 proving his willingness to take the game on, Stewart would fit into any team well and a defender is definitely needed at the Blues.
The three-time All-Australian has the physical attributes at 190cm to play on talls and the quickness and agility to play on smalls, making him as valuable as any player in the competition.
Option 4: Darcy Moore
Moore is one of the best defenders in the competition and boasts size, speed and aerial prowess that would be much needed for the Blues in 2022.
The addition of Moore to Ikon Park would mean that Weitering can lock down the opposition's best key forward whilst the Magpies backman can zone off and intercept mark, playing a more 'attacking' role.
At 203cm, Moore can also lock down the second-string key forward on the opposition and flex his strong contested one-on-one skills.
Weitering and Moore would form a lethal duo in the back six and would be an exciting prospect for Blues fans if the club were to poach him from their cross-town rivals in Collingwood.
Given star ruckmen don't come around often, Gawn would be Carlton's man to steal across from the Demons.
A figure like Gawn would elevate Carlton's side more so than any of the other options, and his influence and leadership would be infectious amongst the team, bringing together a strong culture to lead the Blues back into finals.
Gawn's hit-outs to advantage would only elevate the upper hand of Sam Walsh, Adam Cerra and Patrick Cripps and lead to more territory in Carlton's forward half where they can lock it in and look to win games from there.
The Demons skipper is also hard-working defensively and can get back to help out defenders when in need, as well as impacting the scoreboard as a forward threat if required.