AFL Trade News 2023: St Kilda list boss Stephen Silvagni looks on at Carlton’s Tom De Koning

Stephen Silvagni may not have completely left his Carlton life behind. A pay crunch looms at his former club and SOS could return to the well for a Saints trade raid.

For the second time in Stephen Silvagni’s career as list manager, Tom De Koning will play a major role.

The first was when Silvagni landed the gun tall for Carlton at pick 30 in the 2017 National Draft in one of the most affordable picks of that year’s crop.

And now again, as Silvagni tries to mend the Saints’ mediocre roster after taking over as roster boss last week.

Silvagni was the man who drafted Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow at Carlton, who considered the No. 1 to welcome superstar Sam Walsh but was summarily booted from Carlton in 2019 because his two sons were still on the club’s books .

Silvagni was hurt and taken aback by the “messy” exit, which included a falling out with former CEO Cain Liddle, in part over the move to bring Eddie Betts back into the blues.

‘SOS’ is a Carlton legend after a brilliant 312-game career at Navy but felt the club were using his sons as scapegoats to recruit him. It was a deeply personal awakening.

Now, back in Moorabbin, Silvagni’s list management moves are not fueled by a plan for revenge.

But it’s clear he has an enormous repair job ahead of him to bring St Kilda, who have contested a finals series in 11 years, to more top quality.

It seems no coincidence that St Kilda listed ex-Blue Liam Stocker (another of Silvagnis picks) under the supplementary selection rules two weeks ago.

They practically got him for free, and Stocker is hungry to make it after being surprisingly cut by Carlton last year after playing 28 games in four seasons.

But as the Saints’ footy division review has shown, years of stocking up on high-priced recruits (Daniel Hannebery, Brad Hill, Zak Jones, Jack Higgins and Brad Crouch, among others) have not built St Kilda’s roster here or there.

But Silvagni won’t shy away from cutting St Kilda’s roster to cut the fat, rebalance the salary cap and crack down on players who can lead the Saints back up. Obviously, some tough calls are popping up.

And as president Andrew Bassat proved with the Lyon coup, the club are in an aggressive mood and there is plenty of optimism about the summers of Hunter Clark, Marcus Windhager and top pick Mattaes Phillipou.

We know that Gold Coast’s Ben King has been around St Kilda for years after several failed attempts to bring him back to Bayside.

But De Koning would also be high on the wish list in a year when the free agency pool is looking bright for star bigs.

For that reason, Silvagni will be keeping a close eye on the salary cap squeeze at Carlton and any opportunity to stand out one of the most exciting young talls in the game.

Respected analyst Kane Cornes has previously suggested that De Koning could be worth as much as $1 million a year as the hottest unsigned player out there.

Can the Blues keep him on blockbuster deals with Cripps, Curnow, Walsh and Weitering after trying to land Jack Martin, Zac Williams and Mitch McGovern?

In any case, clubs will want to try and get Carlton to pay top dollar so if De Koning stays, others would have to leave.

Jack Silvagni, who is also a free agent this year, is also looking for a contract extension.

As of this writing, De Koning seems in no rush to worry about his future as the Blues look to 2023 for their first finals campaign in 10 years.

And to be fair, it’s a great place to be. It’s a big club with shiny new facilities, seemingly on the verge of being a true Premiership widow. Blockbusters and packed crowds await you.

And De Koning can make the No. 1 ruck reel his own.

Brian Cook, Carlton Chief Executive, knows from his glorious reign in Geelong that sacrifice makes for success.

And if the Blues win, it could be an impossible place to leave.

But that won’t stop Silvagni from trying.

Originally released as St Kilda’s new list boss, Stephen Silvagni will be keeping a close eye on Carlton’s salary cap squeeze AFL Trade News 2023: St Kilda list boss Stephen Silvagni looks on at Carlton’s Tom De Koning

Ryan Sederquist

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