ST KILDA will almost certainly have to continue its ruck search, with prime targets Todd Goldstein and Sam Draper set to remain at their respective clubs.
The Saints made an enticing four-year offer to Draper, which is believed to be in the range of $1.6 to 1.8 million, at a time he is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear in May.
They were also keen to bring Goldstein on board for multiple seasons, but North Melbourne's willingness to offer the 2015 All Australian a two-year deal looks to have staved off St Kilda's advances.
Essendon is confident Sam Draper will stay despite interest from St Kilda. Picture: AFL Photos
Goldstein is an unrestricted free agent, so he could walk to the club of his choice if he wanted to, but his preference is to play out his career at Arden St.
North coach Rhyce Shaw said on Thursday he would "love" to retain Goldstein beyond this season.
"Todd's been a fantastic contributor to our football club and from my perspective he's a great player and someone we'd love to have going forward," Shaw said.
Tom Campbell re-signed for two years at the Roos on Wednesday, and they also have promising young big man Tristan Xerri in the wings.
Essendon, too, is confident that Draper, who is out of contract, will stay at Tullamarine despite the Bombers not being able to match the Saints' monetary offer.
The industry belief is that Draper will re-sign at Essendon as well.
Draper's manager, Michael Doughty, of TLA Australia, is in Bali this week, so it is unlikely anything will be finalised until he returns.
Tom Bellchambers is the Bombers' No.1 ruckman at this stage, but Draper is nine years his junior and doesn't turn 21 until September.
They have turned to former Docker Zac Clarke in recent weeks, with a calf complaint also sidelining Bellchambers for an extended period.
Rowan Marshall is enjoying a breakout season in the ruck for the Saints, but they were keen to move him forward if they were able to secure another legitimate ruck option.
St Kilda's other two ruck options, Billy Longer and Lewis Pierce, are both recovering from lingering concussion symptoms.
Longer will sit out the rest of the season to focus on his "health and wellbeing", while Pierce is also unlikely to play this year despite being more advanced in his recovery.
Behind them, the Saints have only 211cm project player Sam Alabakis, a former college basketballer who they signed in October last year.
St Kilda's potential other options include Port Adelaide's Paddy Ryder – who is being strongly linked to Greater Western Sydney – out-of-favour Crow Sam Jacobs or maybe even Hawthorn's Jon Ceglar.
Contracted Cat Ryan Abbott is also looking for more opportunities, while teammate Zac Smith doesn't have a deal for 2020.
Ryder is as good as certain to be at another club next year, with ex-Eagle Scott Lycett joining the club on a five-year deal in the 2018 NAB AFL Trade Period and Peter Ladhams quickly emerging.
AFL.com.au understands the Power has dropped Lycett for Saturday's clash with Essendon, and Ladhams will play.
Ladhams has enjoyed an outstanding SANFL campaign and has generated interest elsewhere, including from the Roos before the shift in the Goldstein negotiations, but is likely to stay at Alberton.