ST KILDA would need to retain a pick inside the first six selections if it is to trade its prized No.4 choice, according to list manager James Gallagher.
The Saints hold their earliest pick at a draft since they chose Paddy McCartin at No.1 in 2014, but with clubs able to trade selections until November 16, and then again during the draft a week later, discussions continue about possible deals to move up or down the order.
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The Crows, given their suite of first-round picks (No.8, 13 and 16) have been touted as a possible suitor to edge even closer to the top of the draft.
But Gallagher, who is in his first season as the club’s list manager, when asked if the Saints would swap No.4 for two first-rounders from the Crows, said it was unlikely.
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“You’d consider it. Their first pick is at No.8 at this stage and without being disparaging at all, we do see there being a bit of a difference between a pick four or five or six, and a pick eight,” he told AFL.com.au‘s Road to the Draft podcast.
“It doesn’t feel as though there’d be a deal they could put to us which would be attractive enough for us to consider but at the same time you never know what happens with picks one, two and three.
“We’re open to any ideas and suggestions from other clubs, but right at this stage we’re in a pretty fortunate position with pick four.”
If they keep the pick, the Saints haven’t yet decided on who they will target.
Sam Walsh, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine continue to be linked as the most likely top-three selections, but Max and Ben King, Bailey Smith, Connor Rozee and Jye Caldwell are others in the Saints’ sights.
“The plan with that [pick] is we want to take the best available player for our list at that pick. We recognise the outstanding talent that’s available in those first few picks, and we’d like to have more on our list but the reality is we only have one [early pick] and we’re going to be a bit dictated to in terms of who goes at 1, 2 and 3,” Gallagher said.
Max King, a Saints fan, has been doing his rehabilitation at St Kilda’s headquarters and with the club’s physiotherapists since suffering a season-ending knee injury in April.
The 202cm marking forward started the season as one of the leading No.1 pick contenders and he has shown the ability to be a match-winner in attack.
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“He’s a very impressive young fella, Max. He’s obviously had a pretty challenging year – to do your ACL in your under-18s year after the start of the year that he had. You could forgive him for getting a bit down but he’s been terrific the way he’s attacked his rehabilitation here at St Kilda and worked with our physios, you can’t speak highly enough of his character,” Gallagher said.
“He’s a huge kid, he can jump and he’s very athletic.”
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The Saints have made building their midfield stocks a priority, and Caldwell could fit the bill. Soft-tissue injuries limited the Bendigo Pioneers prospect this season but some clubs view him as the second-best midfield option in the draft behind Walsh.
“Our recruiters are still working on absolutely finalising the order. Jye Caldwell certainly is in the mix. He’s a difficult one in that he hasn’t played a lot this year but he’s got some attributes as a footy club that we love,” he said.
“He’s a really strong inside midfielder and an absolute competitor and you can see him really complementing our midfield really well.”