St Kilda have confirmed a bumper new four-year contract extension for emerging key forward Max King that will tie him to the AFL club until at least the end of 2026.
King, 20, has played just 30 senior games and was already contracted for next year.
But the decision to lock away the "cornerstone of the club's future" on a long-term deal is a crucial piece of the Saints' list build.
"We're thrilled to have Max commit to the club for the long term," Saints list boss James Gallagher said.
"Max is obviously a talented player and is already performing at a very high level considering this is only his second year of AFL football.
"He is also a very driven young man, and we are extremely confident he'll only continue to grow into an elite key forward in the coming years.
"There's a lot of external expectation that has been placed on his shoulders, but the way he's handled it - even before he was drafted - is a credit to his maturity and diligence."
Drafted with the No.4 pick in 2018, King has long been hailed as a Nick Riewoldt-type figure capable of leading St Kilda's pursuit of a drought-breaking flag.
He has been criticised over his wayward goal-kicking at times this season but has been working closely with Hawthorn premiership star and Saints assistant coach Jarryd Roughead to improve his overall game.
"I've been able to see how much he's grown and the work he puts in behind the scenes," Roughead said.
"What's really promising is how Max is influencing the game, either by taking marks, bringing the ball to ground or hitting the scoreboard, and we know the best is yet to come.
"These key position players take time to develop but overall we are really happy with where Max is at and where he's heading."
King was troubled by a back injury early this month but kicked two goals in St Kilda's heartbreaking six-point defeat to Adelaide last round.
The Saints have a bye this week before taking on reigning premiers Richmond on Friday night.
Australian Associated Press