Despite having two of the VFL's best goalkickers on their list, the Gold Coast Suns decided to part ways with both Chris Burgess and Brodie McLaughlin this off-season as the Carrara club looks to head in another direction.

Stunningly, Queensland has been home to the Jim 'Frosty' Miller Medal - the VFL's leading goalkicker award - for the past three seasons, with McLaughlin and Burgess sharing the honour this year.

Burgess' title came in consecutive seasons after the senior sharpshooter first clinched the award in 2022, while Aspley's Matthew Hammelmann took out the honour in the Hornets' sole season in the VFL following the league's expansion two years ago.

McLaughlin's rise to the top would come in his first year with the Suns, having made the move north from Frankston after earning a list spot under Stuart Dew by training with the club over the pre-season.

His 2023 campaign was like no other, helping lead Gold Coast to their first piece of silverware in his maiden season on an AFL list, however the journeyman would not manage a debut at senior level despite his 55-goal season.

Burgess would end this year with 61 goals to his name, booting 10 majors through the Suns' finals series after levelling McLaughlin's home and away season haul of 51 goals to share 'Frosty'.

Gold Coast Suns VFL coach Josh Drummond handing Brodie McLaughlin the 2023 Frosty Miller Medal after the club's grand final win over Werribee (Image by Zero Digital Media - Mitch Keating)

An eight-goal outing against the Blues would see Burgess tie McLaughlin in the final round, with the latter also contributing in the 128-point win over Carlton with five of his own.

The duo would kick three goals each in the VFL Grand Final win over Werribee to cap off stellar seasons for the Suns. But just weeks on from their all-time highs, they've already left the club.

McLaughlin was not offered a new deal to extend his Suns tenure beyond one season, while Burgess was traded to Adelaide on Thursday despite being under contract for 2024.

While Gold Coast aren't starved of attacking options at senior level, the decision to part with the state league's two leading goalkickers raised eyebrows.

But those calls came with the view of wanting the pair to exceed elsewhere, with both McLaughlin and Burgess perhaps needing to find a new home where they can flourish in the top flight.

"We encouraged both of those guys to look for other opportunities," Suns talent manager Craig Cameron said of the pair when questioned by Zero Hanger. 

"Brodie has come into the system at 25 (years of age) as a mature-aged recruit. We felt that his opportunities would be limited.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Brodie McLaughlin of the Suns celebrates a goal during the VFL Grand Final match between Gold Coast Suns and Werribee at Ikon Park on September 24, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

"I've known Brodie for a really long time and have had some really great conversations with him. I just said at his age he's gotta grasp the best opportunity he can and try and find a club he knows he'll play for.

"Chris is the same, he's been with us for a while. He's 27 years of age. He needs to go to a club where he'll get played.

"He's been a great servant for us, but he just needs to be able to play AFL footy."

The Suns could part with 14 of the 20 AFL-listed players that featured in the side that defeated Werribee by 19 points last month, with a trio of those that participated in the win not on the senior list.

Eight players from that side are still without contracts for 2024, while a further two have retired to add to McLaughlin's exit.

VFL captain James Tsitas, along with veteran Levi Casboult, wasn't present on the day due to a suspension from the week prior, with both players also unsigned for next season.

Contracted pair Mabior Chol and Elijah Hollands could both be on the way out this trade period amid respective interest from Hawthorn and Carlton.

Chol was one of five Suns players to boot 30 or more goals in the VFL this year, all of whom could depart this off-season alone. Veteran pair Sam Day and Alex Sexton are still off-contract and could join McLaughlin, Burgess and Chol in leaving the club.

While the Suns will bring in hulking key forward and likely top five draft selection Jed Walter via next month's draft, there could be a case to suggest the Suns may be cutting too deep with their plans of attack moving forward.

Casboult is likely to play on into 2024 after his 20-game season at AFL level, supporting leading forwards Ben King and Jack Lukosius.

But with Casboult entering next season at 34 years of age, and King only just coming back from an ACL injury earlier this year, there could be cause for concern at Carrara if either one of those two face setbacks.

Lukosius has proven to be a durable and versatile asset that could reach new heights under incoming coach Damien Hardwick, while Walter is as ready-made as any prospect this year given his frame at 195cm and 91kg.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 26: Jack Lukosius and Ben King during a Gold Coast Suns AFL training session on November 26, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

So will the foursome of King, Lukosius, Casboult and Walter be enough?

That quartet consists of a recently injury-stricken key forward who's likely to be in high demand in 2024 as his contract comes to an end, a part-time attacker, a veteran likely in his last season and a rookie in his first.

The Suns could call on third-year tall Mac Andrew to play in attack next year as he continues to develop into an exciting key position threat, with another Academy talent in Ethan Read potentially in line to be played behind the ball before succeeding co-captain Jarrod Witts as the club's first-string ruckman.

Joining Read and Walter as likely Academy selections at the draft are Jake Rogers and Will Graham, who very well likely could be the only players that Cameron recruits in the count.