Chris Dawes. Photo: Paul Rovere
CHRIS Dawes will play for Melbourne for the next four years after Collingwood and the Demons finalised terms to trade the forward for pick 20 and a swap of third-round draft picks.
The Magpies' premiership forward joins Melbourne on a $2 million, four-year deal in exchange for the Demons' picks 20 and 45, while Collingwood gives back pick 58.
Collingwood has three first-round draft picks - all inside 21 - prompting some at other clubs to speculate whether they intend to try to package two of the picks in exchange for Kurt Tippett. But it is difficult to see how Collingwood could find the space in the salary cap for that deal. It would appear more likely that, having traded Sharrod Wellingham and Dawes, the Magpies will use the three picks, after having traded out of the draft in recent years.
The deal means that Collingwood has time ahead of Friday's free-agency deadline to ensure it has the cap space to secure Clinton Young, who is tossing up whether to remain at Hawthorn or accept an offer from the Magpies. Other clubs that had made approaches to Young accept that Collingwood remains the only serious contender to prise him away from the Hawks.
Melbourne is understood to have initially proposed a trade of pick 13 for Dawes, who was squeezed out of Collingwood by the recruitment of Quinten Lynch to the role that he had played and so, despite having two years to run on his contract, became amenable to a move. But when the Demons traded pick 13 as part of the Jesse Hogan deal last week it made the trade negotiation more difficult.
■Jake Niall reports that Ben Johnson has been told that he will be retained by Collingwood for 2013, though he is yet to sign a contract.
Johnson's manager Paul Connors said last night: ''I''ve spoken to the football club and he's been assured that he's a required player and he'll be playing for the Pies next year.''
Johnson is one of the last established players to be recontracted. His position on the list might be secure, but terms of a one-year deal might be affected by the club's other trades and free-agent acquisitions. As Johnson is a veteran, the Magpies receive a $112,000 discount on the salary cap, making him a bargain-basement player in his 14th season.
A number of trades and free agent deals have been held up by the wait to see what clubs, such as St Kilda and Port Adelaide, receive in draft compensation for losing free agents. The Saints expect pick No. 13 for losing Brendon Goddard, while Port believes it may receive an end-of-first-round selection for Danyle Pearce, who has gone to Fremantle on a significant four-year contract.
Geelong has not yet struck a deal with North over Hamish McIntosh, while the Cats cannot take Jared Rivers until a spot opens up on their list; Mitch Brown is seen as the player who might create that opening by finding another club.
The Bulldogs are in the market for a seasoned player, perhaps in his early 20s, to support their significant draft harvest. While heavily focused on the draft, in which they will have picks five, six and 21 and five selections inside the top 50, the Dogs are eyeing a player with a stronger body to support their youngsters and the senior group.