AFL Trade Period: Essendon Ben McKay move close as North Melbourne await compensation pick

The dominoes are quickly starting to fall as the AFL’s trade period gets underway, with North Melbourne declaring it isn’t “playing funny buggers” over Ben McKay.

While players have been declaring their hands for some weeks now, no trades could officially happen until the trading period begins, this year running from 9-18 October.

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As far back as September 22, McKay declared his intention to leave Arden Street, with Essendon widely reported as his preferred destination.

That move is now agonisingly close, with the Bombers lodging paperwork to sign the free agent defender on a six-year deal.

Among the more active clubs at this early stage, Essendon is also eyeing veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein, Saints free agent Jade Gresham and Port’s Xavier Duursma, while fending off interest in Dylan Shiel.

North Melbourne has stated it expects to hear back from the AFL over its contentious compensation system in the next 24 hours, widely expected to be pick three for McKay.

There has already been fierce reaction to the Crows receiving pick 19 for defender Tom Doedee, who is moving to the Brisbane Lions.

List boss Brady Rawlings has told the AFL’s official Trade Radio show the Roos will match the Bombers’ offer if it comes in any lower than No. 3.

“We’ll see what that looks like and we’ll have a decision to make,” Rawlings said.

“If it’s not pick three in the draft, we’ll certainly match that offer.

“There’s no question about that. We’re not playing funny buggers there.”

Bombers list manager Adrian Dodoro says the arrival of the experienced North duo is imminent and also expects Gresham to be signed as a free agent early this week.

Dodoro firmly denied the Bombers had discussed trading powerful midfielder Shiel to the Saints as part of a trade for Gresham, calling the 30-year-old “very much a required player”.

It comes as Duursma looms as a fourth target for Essendon over the off-season, but Dodoro said the 23-year-old wingman was yet to request a trade.

“He hasn’t indicated (he wants to join Essendon). We certainly have spoken to him and we’ll just see how that plays out,” Dodoro told reporters on Monday.

McKay, the twin brother of Carlton spearhead Harry, has played 71 games for the Roos since his debut in 2017.

The Bombers are excited to join McKay with 21-year-old, 202cm giant Zach Reid, the 10th pick from the 2020 national draft.

“He’ll fill that void in our back half and he’s going to form a partnership with a young kid called Zach Reid, who we hold in really high regard,” Dodoro said.

“We’ll have a really good back half moving forward.”

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