CARLTON football manager Andrew McKay says the Blues will aggressively target "A-grade talent" such as Jeremy McGovern and Andrew Gaff in this year's free agency period.
St Kilda is also actively in the market to land a big fish, with Gaff and out-of-contract Magpie Jordan De Goey, who is not a free agent, firmly in its cross-hairs.
The Blues and Saints both have salary cap space burning a hole in their recruiting pockets.
But it's one thing to have the money to bring in McGovern or Gaff, or both, it's another thing to convince them their football futures - on and off the field - lie at your club.
Carlton's and St Kilda's efforts will be hampered by their horror starts to 2018, while neither club has shown in recent years that rare ability to attract stars regardless of their on-field strength.
The clubs that can do that are the AFL's genuine 'destination' clubs.
Their evergreen appeal is based on a mix of elite facilities, huge supporter and membership bases that offer players the chance to play in blockbuster games, and blue-chip corporate world connections that can set players up for life.
So where does your club rank in the destination stakes?
Below are AFL.com.au's rankings of every club from 18 (least attractive) to one (most attractive). Although our list takes a club's past free agency and trade record into account, its order was primarily determined by how attractive they will be in this year's player exchange period.
Destination club ladder
18. Gold Coast
The expansion club reaches its first major fork in the road later this year when co-captain Tom Lynch makes a decision on his future. After losing Jaeger O'Meara, Dion Prestia, Gary Ablett and Adam Saad in the past two years, the Suns are facing a rebuild if Lynch returns home to Victoria, and will be hard-pressed attracting quality mature talent to fast-track that process. Mimicking the Lions' strategy of targeting players with a connection to Queensland, Gold Coast parted with pick No.2 in last year's draft to secure a trade with Fremantle for Lachie Weller. Former Crow Jarryd Lyons and ex-Magpie Jarrod Witts have also proved astute pick-ups, the Suns enticing them north with more opportunity and better deals.
Life is tough in the sunshine state when it comes to attracting rival stars. The Lions have done remarkably well landing players with a connection to Queensland - Dayne Beams, Charlie Cameron and Allen Christensen were prized signings by any club's standards - but, with the possible exception of Stef Martin, they have struggled to land an interstate star at his peak. To do so, they would have to blow other rival offers out of the park, probably by at least $200,000 a season. Retention is also a huge focus, with the club determined to avoid a repeat of 2013, when Sam Docherty, Elliot Yeo, Billy Longer and Jared Polec all forced trades to teams in their home states.
16. St Kilda
The Saints have been this year's most disappointing team, their horror start raising serious doubts over whether their list has the class to mount the sustained finals run they envisaged when embarking on a rebuild five years ago. They did well to land in-demand former Bomber Jake Carlisle in 2015, notably short-circuiting an 11th-hour bid by reigning premier Hawthorn. At that time, the Saints looked a young team on the rise. Now they appear a team in desperate need of more elite talent. For the next year or two, they're more likely to acquire that talent via the draft. Nonetheless, they have been strongly linked with Rory Sloane, Andrew Gaff and Jordan De Goey.
Will the Saints land another big fish to join Jake Carlisle? Picture: AFL Photos
The Blues are not the powerhouse club they were in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, while the questions around their list depth and how long it will take them to rebuild are genuine enough to have skipper Marc Murphy considering a move in his twilight years. But Sam Docherty, Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow are elite talents around whom the Blues can shape their team over the long-term, while they will be hoping likes of Caleb Marchbank, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Jacob Weitering, Harry McKay, Paddy Dow and Lochie O'Brien can rise to their level. Carlton will be aggressive in this year's player exchange period, but it might be another two seasons before it's enticing to star players.
14. North Melbourne
Since landing Nick Dal Santo (2013), Shaun Higgins and Jarrad Waite (both 2014) as free agents, the Kangaroos have fallen short in multi-million dollar bids for rival stars including Dustin Martin, Josh Kelly, Adam Treloar, Isaac Heeney and Dan Hannebery. They narrowly missed out on Martin and Kelly last year in the wake of finishing 15th on the ladder. This year's unexpected resurgence should give prospective targets confidence the Roos' immediate on-field future is a lot rosier than predicted, but some might still harbor concerns about their continued reliance on veterans Higgins, Waite, Scott Thompson, Todd Goldstein and Robbie Tarrant. Linked to Eagles star Andrew Gaff and in-demand Magpie Jordan De Goey as they seek to add class to their on-ball division.
13. Western Bulldogs
Although the Dogs have not been a traditional club of choice, their successful play for Tom Boyd at the end of 2014 showed they were prepared to pay over the odds - about $7 million over seven years in Boyd's case - to secure elite talent. Their return to the finals in 2015 was a factor in Matthew Suckling's decision that October to cross from three-time reigning premier Hawthorn. Despite their disappointing first half of 2018, the Bulldogs can sell prospective recruits on a bright on-field future centred around a talent-laden young core of Marcus Bontempelli, Jackson Macrae, Lachie Hunter, Jason Johannisen, Tom Liberatore and Bailey Dale.
After years of missing out on big-name interstate targets such as Travis Cloke, Jack Riewoldt and James Frawley, the Dockers' more recent strategy of targeting expat West Australians has paid handsome dividends in recent seasons via the likes of Bradley Hill, Nathan Wilson, Joel Hamling, Cam McCarthy and Brandon Matera. Although West Coast is the more established and bigger club, Freo is strong in its own right and fully capable of holding its own in any stoush for returning WA talent. The Dockers are attempting to pull off a rare cross-town move this year as they circle West Coast defender Jeremy McGovern with a big-money offer.
Attracting WA talent like Nathan Wilson has proven successful for Freo. Picture: AFL Photos
11. Greater Western Sydney
The Giants' depth of talent has taken them to consecutive preliminary finals and gives them genuine appeal. Most in the industry put the Giants' up-and-down form this year down to a poor run with injury, so anyone looking to be part of sustained on-field success should at least consider them as a potential new home. Victorians Heath Shaw, Ryan Griffen and Brett Deledio have all made the move north in recent years. Will the Giants look this year to secure a ruckman to fill the hole left by Shane Mumford's retirement at the end of last season?
The Bombers have long battled a reputation for being difficult to deal with at trade time, but landed the first big fish of the free agency era, Brendon Goddard in 2012. Over the next few years, they were understandably more focused on player retention as they negotiated the supplements saga. However, the Dons announced they were back as a club of choice in last year's trade period when they landed All Australian Bulldog Jake Stringer, in-demand Giant Devon Smith and Suns speedster Adam Saad. This year they are in the market for an inside midfielder, with Bulldog free agent Mitch Wallis firmly on their radar.
One of the competition's best resourced and most consistent on-field clubs, the Crows were star midfielder Bryce Gibbs' preferred new home when he decided to return home to South Australia, while they have also attracted forward-line stars Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins and Tom Lynch from Victoria, along with emerging wingman Paul Seedsman. Adelaide has had a problem with retention in recent years, with Patrick Dangerfield, Jake Lever, Kurt Tippett, Jack Gunston, Phil Davis and Charlie Cameron all departing. Star midfielder and free agent Rory Sloane could join that group this year, while rumours persist contracted forward Mitch McGovern wants to move to Victoria, with Hawthorn understood to be at the top of his wish list. Lynch also remains uncontracted beyond 2018.
8. West Coast
The Eagles are one of the competition's strongest clubs, on and off the field, but understandably have focused strongly on recruiting West Australians. Elliot Yeo, Lewis Jetta, Sharrod Wellingham and Jamie Cripps are among those who have returned home in recent years to continue their careers with the Eagles, but out-of-towners such as Jack Redden (South Australia) and Nathan Vardy (Victoria) have also been enticed west. West Coast's stellar start to 2018 has only enhanced their appeal, although they have their hands full trying to retain free agents Andrew Gaff, Jeremy McGovern and Scott Lycett.
Jack Redden and Elliot Yeo have both flourished at West Coast. Picture: AFL Photos
The Demons have been steadily attracting rival players in recent seasons, netting the likes of Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince, Jake Melksham, Michael Hibberd and Jake Lever. Lever was one of last season's most prized recruits and it was a sign of Melbourne's rediscovered relevance that he opted to join them. With the Demons well placed to return to the finals for the first time since 2006, on the back of a young list that should only get better, their appeal is growing. If Eagle Andrew Gaff decides to return home to Victoria, the Demons will be favourites to land him.
6. Port Adelaide
Port has been a big trade player in recent seasons. Significantly, it has shown it can attract non-South Australians, including star big men Paddy Ryder and Charlie Dixon, and last year's vaunted trio Tom Rockliff, Steven Motlop and Jack Watts. The Power have also netted their share of hometown boys, most notably Brad Ebert, Jared Polec and Jack Hombsch, while their list looks well placed for a run of sustained success, which should ensure they remain an attractive destination.
The Swans identify underappreciated and underpaid gems better than anyone - Josh Kennedy, Shane Mumford, Ben McGlynn and Ted Richards are the best examples - but, more tellingly, have cleverly positioned themselves as the club where stars can escape the AFL bubble. Tony Lockett, Barry Hall, Lance Franklin and, to a lesser extent, Kurt Tippett are among those who have thrived in the relative anonymity footballers enjoy in Sydney, while playing for a club that is a perennial contender. Will Collingwood's Darcy Moore be the next spearhead to head to Sin City in search of a quieter life?
Will Darcy Moore head north to Sydney in the trade period? Picture: AFL Photos
The Hawks were the destination club until recently. After winning the 2008 premiership ahead of schedule, they consistently overcome fierce rival interest to sign big-name recruits, their list of acquisitions including Shaun Burgoyne, James Frawley, Jaeger O'Meara, Josh Gibson, David Hale, Jack Gunston and Tom Mitchell. Playing under four-time flag coach Alastair Clarkson is an obvious attraction, while the Hawks' fitness and medical teams are also extremely well regarded. However, Hawthorn is a slightly riskier bet than it was few years ago. Can it rebuild its 2013-15 premiership core while remaining a contender or is it destined for a few transitional years? The Hawks will be hoping 2018 targets such as Gold Coast spearhead Tom Lynch and Adelaide's Rory Sloane foresee the rosier scenario.
After focusing on the draft during their recent premiership era, the Cats changed tack in 2012 and have since become one of the AFL most active and successful traders. The Cats have been able to use the lure of Geelong's surf coast to lure locals such as Patrick Dangerfield, Lachie Henderson and prodigal son Gary Ablett home, while their sustained run of success has attracted other quality players like Zac Tuohy and Scott Selwood. Likely to be in the market for a ruckman this year, while they have been linked with former Geelong Falcon Luke Dahlhaus and Carlton captain Marc Murphy.
No club's appeal is more immune to down years than the Magpies. After finishing 12th in 2015, they were still able to snare the in-demand Adam Treloar and Jeremy Howe, along with James Aish. Now that they look set to return to the finals for the first time since 2013 the lure of the Holden Centre will only get stronger. Retaining Jordan De Goey, Darcy Moore and Jamie Elliott could be their biggest priority this year, but if one of De Goey or Moore leaves they will have the cap space to aggressively target rival talent. Strongly linked to Gold Coast's Tom Lynch.
After being trumped by Collingwood in the race for Adam Treloar at the end of 2015, things turned around for the Tigers a year later when they beat a host of Victorian clubs to win Dion Prestia's signature. That same year they also made savvy trades for Josh Caddy and Toby Nankervis, while their ability to thwart North Melbourne's audacious bid for Dustin Martin and shortly after snare the 2017 premiership confirmed Punt Rd as the competition's most enticing destination. Well placed to snare this year's most sought-after free agent, Tom Lynch, if he decides, as expected, to leave Gold Coast.