BRADLEY Hill. Zak Jones. Dougal Howard. Paddy Ryder. How in the hell does St Kilda pull this off?
St Kilda's potential trade haul swelled to four on Wednesday, when contracted Port Adelaide defender Howard nominated them – ahead of Essendon and North Melbourne – as his preferred destination.
Adding further complexity to the situation was Fremantle's stance on gun wingman Hill, who the Dockers want two first-round selections for.
The Saints made an alpha move on Thursday, when they offloaded picks six and 59 for Greater Western Sydney's Nos.12 and 18 against Fremantle's wishes.
Whether it was a successful ploy remains to be seen but it definitely gives them more flexibility.
It's understood St Kilda was willing to part with No.6 and a future second-round selection in exchange for Hill before the pick swap with the Giants.
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However, Fremantle football boss Peter Bell was steadfast on wanting pick six and future first- and third-round selections from the Saints (with the Dockers giving more than just Hill back).
St Kilda's draft picks this year are now Nos. 12, 18, 76 and 82, leaving the club's list management team with the sizeable challenge of hatching a plan to bring in the wantaway quartet.
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The Power expects a top-20 selection in return for Howard, who is contracted until the end of 2022, so they will probably hone in on No.18 – potentially with Ryder included in the package.
A future second-round pick might be an eventual compromise, but that also looms as crucial to the Hill trade.
Hands up if you want to be a Saint. Dougal Howard wants out of the Power.
Vital in this equation is that key forward Josh Bruce wants to play for the Western Bulldogs, while four-time club champion Jack Steven is eyeing a move to Geelong.
St Kilda football boss Simon Lethlean has, justifiably, placed a higher value on Bruce's head than the Dogs' pick 32, although their No.13 seems a tad too steep.
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A selection in the 20s to unlock the Bruce deal would require a third club to become involved, and this trade has long been aligned to how the Saints appease the Swans for Jones.
Otherwise, St Kilda's willingness to accept 32 from the Bulldogs may depend on whether Sydney would take the same for Jones.
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Meanwhile, Steven is consistently linked to one of Geelong's late second-round selections (36 and 37), and the Saints will reportedly pay some of his wage.
Maximising the Steven return, even if it's a combination of 36 or 37 and a later asset, would be helpful but relies on some Cats generosity.
Anything extra could sweeten the Howard package or enable them to make a late play for out-of-favour Tigers forward Dan Butler.
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Midfielders Blake Acres (contracted next year), who is from Western Australia, and Jack Newnes (uncontracted) are two other potential trade chips worth watching.
Even if St Kilda somehow negotiates these other deals, the elephant in the trade room is how it lands Hill.
The 26-year-old was the Saints' No.1 trade target and his wooing was months in the making, so clinching him is the key to how the club's exchange period will be perceived.
St Kilda is earning plaudits for its bold decision to offload pick six and take the initiative from the Dockers, but it now has a wounded trade partner still to satisfy.
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