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Saints set sights on AFL free agent stars

AAP logoAAP 21/10/2016 Michael Ramsey

St Kilda have set their sights on a bumper 2017 AFL free agency crop headlined by Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe and Richmond's Dustin Martin.

The Saints emerged as one of the biggest winners of this year's trade period, recruiting Greater Western Sydney's Jack Steele and the Western Bulldogs' Koby Stevens to bolster their midfield, while also bringing in Collingwood free agent Nathan Brown.

They also secured an extra first-round pick in next year's draft from Hawthorn at a bargain-basement price.

The Hawks, desperate to land Jaeger O'Meara from Gold Coast, gave up their future selection and picks 23 and 36 in this year's draft in exchange for the Saints' No.10 and 68 picks.

With two first-round picks at their disposal next year, the Saints will be well placed heading into what's expected to be another strong draft.

But they're just as likely to turn their attention towards a free agency class headlined by Fyfe, Martin, Sydney on-baller Josh Kennedy and Hawthorn's Luke Breust.

And with the likes of Greater Western Sydney recruit Brett Deledio requesting trades despite being contracted, St Kilda chief operating officer Ameet Bains expects there'll be plenty of players looking for a new home.

"We were still trying as late as 1pm yesterday to move up in the draft order but we'd made the decision to hang on to both first-round draft picks for next year," Bains told EON Sports Radio on Friday.

"It gives you a very strong draft hand if you take those picks to the draft next year but in the environment where player movement now is off the charts, it does give you some very strong currency in terms of getting some quality players to your club as well."

Richmond and Brisbane will also have two first-round picks in next year's draft, while Hawthorn have always appealed to players on the move and should have space in their salary cap following the departure of veterans Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis.

The Saints finished ninth on the ladder this season and will have to compete for a spot in the finals with Melbourne and Fremantle, who improved their lists during the trade period.

But Bains says he can't remember a time in his five years at St Kilda when they were viewed so favourably as a destination for players on the move.

"We are in a lot more conversations," he said.

"For the first time in my time, we had multiple players who were keen to join our club that, for various reasons at our end, we couldn't pursue. It's a great turnaround."

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