JADE Gresham has been rewarded for an outstanding debut season with a contract extension that binds him to St Kilda until the end of 2019.
The Saints' high hopes for Gresham were underlined last week when he inherited the club's most revered jumper, changing the No.22 he wore in 2016 for the No.4 worn by Saints greats Tony Lockett, Darrel Baldock, Barry Breen and Andrew Thompson.
And this week St Kilda rewarded 2015's No.18 draft pick, who was already contracted for 2017, with a new two-year deal.
Gresham played 18 games in 2016, averaging more than 15 possessions a match. He also kicked 11 goals for the season (equal eighth at St Kilda) and had 10 goal assists (equal seventh).
Gresham said he had been "pretty happy" with his debut season and was looking to build on that in 2017.
"I've loved my time here so far, love being around the club and the boys. I've made some really close mates already, so I'm looking forward to the next few years and what the future holds," Gresham said.
"My main focus this pre-season is building my tank so I can hopefully spend more time in the midfield next season if the opportunity comes up. I'm also just looking to improve all aspects of my game so I can hopefully cement my spot in the side next season."
Gresham spent the majority of his time in attack last season, but showed signs of the line-breaking run he could add to St Kilda's on-ball division, finishing third at the club for running bounces (14), behind Jack Steven and Leigh Montagna (both 16). He was also ninth at the Saints for inside 50s (53).
Most memorably, Gresham stepped up late in St Kilda's thrilling round 14 win over Geelong.
Gathering a loose ball near the boundary line, he confounded veteran Cats defender Tom Lonergan with a clever sidestep before swinging on to his right foot to snap a brilliant goal around his body.
The former Northern Knights captain also received one Brownlow Medal vote for his season-high 25-possession haul against Carlton in round 20.
The Saints drafted Gresham with the first-round pick they received from the Sydney Swans in the three-way trade that, among other things, sent Essendon key defender Jake Carlisle to Seaford in return for the Saints' first-round pick, originally No.5 overall.
St Kilda chief operating officer Ameet Bains said the club was "thrilled" to secure Gresham until the end of 2019.
"We think the ongoing challenge for Jade is to develop his endurance base to allow him to become a more permanent fixture in our midfield," Bains said.
"We saw some really impressive glimpses of what he can add to the midfield during the second half of the season. In particular, he showed how damaging he can be at stoppages and how clean he is in tight."
St Kilda is running a '31 by 31' membership campaign that aims to sign 31,000 members by December 31. As of December 9, the Saints had signed 26,434 members.