If list sizes are cut back at the end of the season, clubs with the least amount of contracted players are set to benefit the most in what could be a trade bonanza.
Some players are reportedly open to moving clubs to meet their salary demands for 2021 should list sizes come down and the salary cap shrinks.
According to The Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph, North Melbourne are in the best position of any club to poach rival players, with just 22 contracted players for 2021 and significant cap space.
He added that Melbourne and Carlton have around half of their list contracted beyond this season, meaning they also have the most flexibility to attack the player market and raid from rival clubs.
On the other side, Gold Coast has 41 of its 51 players contracted and will have little to no wiggle room amid likely delistings.
The report states that some player managers believe list sizes will be cut back to 40 next year then 35 in 2022, as well as a group of six part-time players who are effectively rookies.
“It’s my understanding that some players are just not willing to take those pay cuts, and they’ll be prepared to move to a club that can accommodate their 2021 salary in its entirety,” Ralph told Fox Sports News’ AFL Tonight.
“North Melbourne is one of those clubs very poised to strike. I understand only 22 players of their 45-person list are contracted through to 2021, and they also – as they have the last couple of years – have significant salary cap space.
“Clubs like that with real flexibility, if list sizes are to come down, are really looking for the opportunity to poach rival clubs’ players, they’ll be in a very positive space.
“North Melbourne in that space, Melbourne another club that has about 20 players out of contract, Carlton about half of their players out of contract.”
Ralph said the Kangaroos have a great opportunity to be seen as a “destination club” if they can take strides forward in 2020.
“That (players being signed) would usually be seen as an amazing thing,” Ralph said.
“But in this time when the watchwords are agility and flexibility, North Melbourne is in a really good spot if they can rise up the ladder and be seen as a destination club once again.”