THE AFL WOMEN’S Sign and Trade Period has officially closed, with Melbourne making plenty of moves in the past 10 days.
The Demons, who had a strong focus on adding further young talent to their playing list, featured heavily in the opening few days, before securing a big draft pick earlier this week.
In addition to acquiring the third selection of the Victorian Draft, they have also locked in picks No.9, 11, 24, 28, 32 and 25.
“We came into this period with a very well-thought-out plan as to how we take this team forward, to ensure we remain a contender in the short term and for years to come,” AFLW List Manager Patterson told Melbourne Media.
“We are really pleased that we have been able to execute step one of the plan, and now we move forward to ensuring we draft appropriately.”
While the Dees have put themselves in prime position for the Draft later this year, they have also farewelled several players.
Former co-captain Elise O’Dea and youngster Maddy Guerin have joined Carlton, defenders Harriet Cordner and Bianca Jakobsson have departed to Richmond and St Kilda respectively, and Aliesha Newman has moved to Collingwood.
Melbourne has also traded Katherine Smith to Greater Western Sydney and advised Ainslie Kemp that she would not be offered a contract for next season.
While the draft-focused approach has meant for some turnover of the list, Patterson reinforced the club’s overall strategy ahead of the 2021 season.
“It is always sad to see quality people leave the program, but it’s important to take a step back and understand why change is happening,” he said.
“We were confronted with possible retirements and multiple long-term injuries, amongst other things.
“When we assessed all these factors at the end of last season, it was evident that positive outcomes could be reached for all everyone involved.
“We also identified that this year’s draft pool is stronger than ever before, and now is the time to add some young talent and really take our list to the next level.”
And having drafted some young guns in years gone by, the Demons are thrilled to be welcoming more exciting prospects to their list.
“We have had just two first-round draft picks since the inaugural Draft – they were Eden Zanker and Tyla Hanks,” Patterson said.
“Whilst we don’t place pressure on these high picks to come in and dominate, the young talent has shown the impact they can have.
“To head into this year’s Draft with two first-rounders, and the first pick in the second round, puts us in a really strong place.”
While there will be some new faces in the red and blue next year, many familiar names will again be running out for the Dees.
As announced on Wednesday, Melbourne has secured 23 players for the 2021 season, headlined by captain Daisy Pearce.
“We have some outstanding leaders in this team, whose experience is invaluable,” Patterson said.
“Our squad now has a mix of these leaders and some young, talented players who are all ready to step up and make this team their own.
“We’re really confident in where we’re at, and can’t wait to get stuck into the next phase, being the Draft later this year.”