In demand: Talented young gun Jack Viney. Photo: Paul Rovere
JACK Viney could yet cost Melbourne the No. 3 choice in this year's draft as a father-son selection, with Gold Coast considering forcing the Demons' hand.
While Greater Western Sydney is expected to pick Lachie Whitfield with the No. 1 pick - and not risk losing the standout 18-year-old by making a father-son bid - the Suns have done considerable research on Viney and are believed to be keen to draft an inside midfielder.
In the unlikely event that the Demons failed to match a Gold Coast bid, the Suns would be left with an instant replacement for the departing Josh Caddy and a young midfield crew that consists of Viney, David Swallow, Harley Bennell, Jaeger O'Meara, Dion Prestia and others.
The Suns are not planning to push for a pick in this year's 17-year-old mini-draft - they gave their No. 4 pick to the Giants to secure O'Meara last year - which means committing to Viney at the start of the trade period would not necessarily hamper their trade plans.
But if they do decide to make a play for West Australian onballer Jack Martin, the leading candidate for this year's mini-draft, they would have to reconsider risking the No. 2 pick on Viney, which means the Demons remain optimistic he could make it to their second-round pick.
Viney, 18, the son of Melbourne recruiting chief Todd Viney, is widely considered the standout inside midfielder in this year's draft pool.
His childhood friend, Echuca onballer Ollie Wines, is another well-regarded inside midfielder in contention for an early pick.
The Demons will snare Viney with their second-round choice - in the 20s - should both the Giants and Suns fail to bid for him. They are also in the mix for a mini-draft pick, with West Australian tall Jesse Hogan believed to be in their sights.
The Western Bulldogs, with two top-10 picks, are well placed to land Martin with the other mini-draft pick, though they will not concede to the Giants' initial demand for both those picks.
Gold Coast football manager Marcus Ashcroft said the club would not hand over Caddy, who played all 22 matches this year after an injury-interrupted debut season, without suitable compensation.
''We have to stand firm … we need to make sure what we're compensated for is in the best interests of our football team,'' he said on the AFL's website.
The compensation was still being debated within the club, he added.
''Our philosophy is we have to do what's best for the footy club. The trade will be in the best interests of our list and our team.
''He's had another year of footy, he's one more year experienced, played every game. How do you work out what's reasonable?
''How do you put a value on potential as well? It's one we have to sit down and work out among ourselves.''
Melbourne coach Mark Neeld, meanwhile, has dismissed rumours that veteran onballer Aaron Davey is looking to leave the club, and said he understood the need for Brent Moloney (restricted) and Jared Rivers (unrestricted) to test their free-agency options.
''The rules state that all these free agents - there's about 80 - are free to speak to other clubs. Jared would be weighing up how many years he's got left in the game and whether we're likely to play in finals,'' Neeld said on SEN.
''We can match any offer that Brent receives, it was just mutually decided that what Brent wants to achieve is going to happen outside our footy club.
''Everyone's becoming a lot more mature. The cloak-and-daggers stuff is being removed. We can have these conversations.''
Neeld said Davey, who played just eight games this season, had not been helped by starting his season too soon after a pre-season knee problem. The 29-year-old, who featured for the last time in round 13, has already begun training for next season.
''In hindsight, we probably brought Aaron back a bit early,'' he said. ''We were really keen to get him in the side, but when we did, we thought, 'Hang on, he's a bit underdone here'. Then his foot fell apart. He got a stress fracture, so he got put to bed.''