Check out all the big list calls facing Melbourne this off-season

Clayton Oliver is the type of player Gold Coast sorely needs and the type of player the Suns can build a team around. But would he seriously consider a move from Melbourne?

When you enter a season hunting a premiership and leave it without featuring in finals, you must go over every aspect with a fine-tooth comb.

For Melbourne, that should start with every decision the club has made since being smashed by West Coast in last year’s preliminary final.

Because a good club will make sure that level of dramatic underachieving never happens again.

For all their struggles, there is a lot I like about the Demons.

As long as Steven May and Jake Lever are lining up side-by-side from Round 1 next year, they will have an elite backline.

Their midfield is capable of going to battle with anyone. While they aren’t slow, I’d love them to have even more pace they could throw in there. Someone in the Zak Jones mould would be perfect.

The major issues I have with the list are up forward. Tom McDonald thrived as the second option next to Jesse Hogan. While his season is now over because of injury, he proved inconsistent when the opposition’s best defender was wearing him like a glove.

I think Sam Weideman is on his way to being a very good player. But at the moment, his sweet spot is as a third forward.

The Demons must investigate bringing someone in to replicate the structure Hogan gave them.

The other issue I see is with their small forwards.

Melbourne has had a brutal season punctuated by injuries to key players. Picture: AAP Images.
Melbourne has had a brutal season punctuated by injuries to key players.

Jeff Garlett has played this role in the past but if they want to compete with the absolute elite teams in the competition then it’s time to explore an upgrade.

While many want to make tough calls on Nathan Jones and Jordan Lewis, I think this is the wrong move.

A good list has balance and while these guys may be slowing down, they still have incredible football smarts.

If they choose to go on next season, they will back themselves to play every game. But even if they don’t, they will still be playing an important role in the development of the younger players and culture of the club.

Ed Langdon has long been linked with a move back to Victoria. Picture: Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images.
Ed Langdon has long been linked with a move back to Victoria.

JAY CLARK BREAKS DOWN MELBOURNE’S BIGGEST TRADE QUESTIONS

THREE DEMONS RIVAL RECRUITERS ARE WATCHING

Ed Langdon

The running machine has flown under the radar at Fremantle despite finishing fourth in the best-and-fairest last year. The brother of Collingwood’s Tom Langdon, Ed would give Melbourne some of the outside midfield run and class it needs. The No. 54 pick has been a great selection for the Dockers, averaging 25 disposals a game this year.

Bryce Gibbs

Melbourne needs blokes who can hit targets inside forward 50m and Gibbs is still an above average kick. Dropped four times, it’s been a disastrous season for the former Blue at Adelaide. Imagine him being on the end of some Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney handball magic. Docker Brad Hill would be the dream fit, but Gibbs would come much cheaper.

Dan Butler

Melbourne ranks third-last in the competition for ground balls won inside 50m. Jeff Garlett could depart at season’s end and Jay Lockhart has been a great find. But another speedster would add another much-needed ground-level threat. Butler has been in and out of Richmond’s team and could slot straight into a forward pocket.

Dan Butler would help add spark to Melbourne’s forward line. Picture: Michael Klein.
Dan Butler would help add spark to Melbourne’s forward line.

THREE PLAYERS GIANTS RECRUITERS ARE WATCHING

Clayton Oliver

It’s a longshot, but Gold Coast should make Clayton Oliver an offer he cannot refuse. He’s exactly what the Suns lack, a consistent, genuine A-grader who they can build the club around for the next decade. He’s a $1-million-a-year player in the making, at age 21.

Angus Brayshaw

Hasn’t had the season he would have wanted amid some question marks about his accountability through the midfield. Brayshaw would be a perfect fit for Fremantle to help partner his brother, Andrew, Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters in the engine room. Brayshaw already showed his commitment to the Dees knocking back a big offer from the Roos last year.

Alex Neal-Bullen

Has been in and out of the team and won’t get big dollars to stay at Melbourne. He’s a hard worker who has averaged 12 possessions a game playing a run-with role through the midfield at times. A decent offer or a longer-term contract could secure Neal-Bullen.

RATE THE 2018 TRADE PERIOD

JAY CLARK’S SCORE: 6/10

Hard to dress it up as anything other than an ordinary year for Melbourne. Maybe we got overexcited about the preliminary final finish last year, and underrated the off-season surgeries, but regardless they have fallen in a heap in 2019. Steve May needs to have the best off-season of his career over summer after a spluttering start to his time at Melbourne, arriving in average condition before hurting his hamstring and groin. It was a bold move to off-load Jesse Hogan but the key forward has been up and down himself in the west, and has suffered another foot injury, albeit only a sprain The Demons picked up Kade Kolodjashnij as the steak knives in the May trade but some hamstring and concussion problems have sidelined him for all but two senior games. He’s a good fit on paper, but 2019 has been a frustrating one for the former Sun. What has worked well is the Braydon Preuss for Dom Tyson trade as Tyson has struggled to get a game at North and Preuss has been a valuable back-up for the Dees. Preuss is still building his tank and working on his forward craft. Overall, Melbourne made a really big call to permit Hogan’s move to Fremantle, breaking his contract, and it is yet to pay off. What they need is more run, class and kicking skills on the outside of the hard nuts in the midfield to help make life easier for the other forwards they have.

WHY CHAMPION DATA LIKES THE DEMONS:

The Demons still have 11 players rating elite or above average, with seven of these players under the age of 23.

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