Clockwise from left: Ben McKay, Brodie Grundy, Tom Doedee, Lachie Schultz. Pictures: AFL Photos/Phil Hillyard

ESSENDON recruit Ben McKay is set to have a "significant" impact at the Bombers in 2024, while Sydney ruckman Brodie Grundy will get back to his very best at his third club in as many seasons.

That's the opinion of's chief football correspondent, Damian Barrett, who expects the pair to be among the recruits of 2024 after high-profile off-season moves.

Barrett concedes there remain some "question marks" in some quarters over McKay, who won just eight of his 71 AFL games at North Melbourne and will reportedly be paid around $1.4-$1.5 million in 2024 as part of a front-ended deal at the Bombers.

But Barrett expects a fresh start with former coach Brad Scott will help McKay reach his potential.

"People still have question marks over him, but I'm always defensive of him given he's played his entire career at a really bad footy club in the way it's performed in the past four or five years," Barrett said on the AFL Daily podcast on Tuesday.

"I defy anyone to have performed much better than Ben with the way and the rate of that ball coming into his defensive 50.

"(Essendon) is better structured and I feel with him there at the Bombers, he's going to have a significant impact with how Brad Scott wants to set up."

Thirty-four players found a new home during last season's trade and free agency periods, with's Josh Gabelich tipping Tom Doedee's acquisition by Brisbane to be viewed as one of the shrewder moves, with the 26-year-old recovering better than expected from a serious knee injury.

"There is a confidence at Brisbane that he could feature come April, which is a huge result for them," Gabelich said. "They thought he might have missed the first half of the year when they recruited him.

"He's going to slot in really nicely alongside Harris Andrews and Jack Payne. Ryan Lester played in a Grand Final and so did Darcy Gardiner - I dare say Tom Doedee is a fair upgrade on those two. And he's only 26 ... so he could have a really big impact up there."

Tom Doedee at Brisbane training on November 27, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Barrett also expects Grundy to get back to being one of the best rucks in the game at the Swans after his short-lived experiment alongside Max Gawn at Melbourne last year.

"I have him getting back to near the top. Whether it's an All-Australian outcome, the Swans won't care for that provided he does what they need him to do, which is compete in that position," Barrett said.

"He's going to get the love, he's going to be backed ... and that's a significant difference already (compared to 2023). There's no Max Gawn there to compete with both in profile and match day performance. It's set up for him to be that person he once was at Collingwood."

Your club's 2023 trade & free agency recruits

Adelaide: Chris Burgess
Brisbane: Tom Doedee
Carlton: Elijah Hollands
Collingwood: Lachie Schultz
Essendon: Xavier Duursma, Jade Gresham, Todd Goldstein, Ben McKay
Fremantle: None
Geelong: None
Gold Coast: None
Greater Western Sydney: None
Hawthorn: Jack Ginnivan, Jack Gunston, Mabior Chol, Massimo D'Ambrosio
Melbourne: Shane McAdam, Jack Billings, Tom Fullarton
North Melbourne: Zac Fisher, Bigoa Nyuon, Dylan Stephens
Port Adelaide: Esava Ratugolea, Ivan Soldo, Jordon Sweet, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher
Richmond: Jacob Koschitzke
St Kilda: Paddy Dow, Liam Henry
Sydney: Taylor Adams, Brodie Grundy, Joel Hamling, James Jordon
West Coast: Tyler Brockman, Matt Flynn
Western Bulldogs: Nick Coffield, James Harmes