Carlton had also been chasing Tom Papley as well as Eddie Betts and the three-way chase was in part the reason the Butler trade never eventuated. The focus on Papley at Carlton as the priority signing held things up in negotiations with Butler and, meanwhile, the Saints were chasing him hard and turned his head.
In the end, Butler saw himself fitting more logically into a role at St Kilda so in one of the deals done at the very death of trade week he was traded to the Saints for pick 56, a selection they had secured as part of the Zak Jones trade.
The form he has shown since arriving at Moorabbin has made that trade look a good deal for the Saints. He has kicked seven goals in his three games since the season resumed.
He is also ranked first in the league for tackles inside 50, which is significant for his role is as much about being a pressure forward as it is being goal-kicking forward.
Butler had played in the 2017 Richmond premiership team but had been squeezed out at Punt Road last year as he managed only the seven games for the Tigers, who preferred others ahead of him.
“He was up and about, and he would’ve had something probably inside him wanting to prove a point, but he didn’t publicly say anything,” Brett Ratten said of Butler after last week’s win over Richmond.
“He just wanted to contribute and he had a great game, another one. I thought he was our best last week as well.
“He’s a quality person and you could really see the Richmond players enjoy the interaction with him.”
Butler said early this year that it was a breakfast meeting with Ratten that swayed him to the Saints over Carlton.
“They were just very welcoming with me and really believed in me and my strengths as a footballer,” Butler said on radio earlier this year.
“I suppose they just really sold it to me and it was hard not to choose them when it came down to it.”
The Saints confirmed captain Jarryn Geary would come back from injury straight into the team to replace Jones, who has hamstring tightness. Scans cleared Jones of a tear but he has had pain in the hamstring and the Saints decided not to run a risk.
Carlton brought key forward Harry McKay and fast midfielder Zac Fisher back into the team to replace Jack Silvagni, who was out with the rib injury from the punch from Zach Merrett, and last week’s debutant Sam Philp, was omitted.
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.