HE MIGHT not be out of contract until the end of next year, but the Crows won't want to wait until the 11th hour to re-sign superstar Patrick Dangerfield. A strong end to the year and finals football would prove a boost in securing the midfielder, given his well-publicised desire to play winning football consistently. The Crows are in for a huge 12 months of negotiations with Rory Sloane and Richard Douglas also out of contract in 2015. Champion midfielder Scott Thompson is out of contract at the end of 2014 and, despite turning 32 before the start of next season, his form has suggested he could go around again. The vastly improved Matthew Jaensch is also out of contract this year, while the club is in talks with wingman David Mackay in the hope he decides against testing free agency waters. - Harry Thring

He still has another year to run on his contract, but locking up James Aish is a must for the Lions. After last year's disaster of losing five first-round picks to homesickness, the pressure is on the club to prove it's not just a training ground to develop players before watching them return 'home'. There are grave fears among Lions members and supporters that Aish, whose name is steeped in South Australian football history, could follow suit and return to Adelaide at the end of 2015 when his contract expires. His dad Andrew won a premiership with Norwood, his grandfather Peter also played at the Redlegs, while uncle Michael won a Magarey Medal. Not only is securing classy Aish crucial for the Lions' development, but it would also send a message to the competition. - Michael Whiting

The Blues might have misfired with their first-round draft picks from 2009-2011, but their first selection in 2012, Troy Menzel, looks a future star. Menzel has missed just one game this season and has given Carlton a real spark up forward, kicking 22 goals to lead the Blues' goalkicking after 16 rounds. The 19-year-old is a strong mark, clinical finisher and seems to relish the big moments in a game. Menzel is set to come out of contract at the end of 2014, but is understood to be close to finalising a new deal with Carlton. Other out-of-contract players the Blues will be looking to re-sign include key forward Levi Casboult, key defender Sam Rowe and forward Mitch Robinson. - Nick Bowen

Troy Menzel looks like having a big future and the Blues will hope it's with them. Picture: AFL Media

Jarryd Blair should be a priority for Collingwood now that its big names have been locked away. Has not put a foot wrong since arriving at the Magpies and has shown his value playing as a small forward in several games after a slow start. He is also a heart and soul player who would be a positive for any group and you could imagine other clubs being interested. Tyson Goldsack has similar attributes and remains unsigned as a free agent. But a deal is expected to get done at some stage with both parties keen on each other. Ben Kennedy also shapes as an important signature. His talent is obvious and he is beginning to earn a regular game after good form in the VFL this season. Quinten Lynch and Martin Clarke are out of contract but their football futures don't look rosy. - Peter Ryan

Essendon has secured most of its key players who are out of contract at the end of this season, with Jason Winderlich, Ben Howlett and Martin Gleeson among the remaining priorities. Winderlich has a trigger clause in his one-year deal for a second season depending on how many games he plays. Next year is a big one for the club, though, with young guns Dyson Heppell and Jake Carlisle coming out of their deals at the end of 2015. Emerging forward Joe Daniher is believed to be tied to the Bombers beyond the end of next season. - Callum Twomey

The Dockers have already secured the key signatures of Nat FyfeDavid MundyMatthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands this season. Luke McPharlin is the other veteran out of contract but unlike Pavlich, his 32-year-old body is causing him issues and he may not play on next year. The Dockers' next biggest target will be Zac Clarke in 2015. Sandilands is unlikely to play in 2016, meaning Fremantle will be looking to Clarke to be their No.1 big man long-term. The highly-talented tall hails from Melbourne, meaning Victorian clubs may start circling if he doesn’t put pen to paper to stay at Freo. In terms of other big men, developing ruck Jack Hannath is out of contract at the end of this season while Kepler Bradley also comes out of contract. However, after recovering from a knee reconstruction last year, Bradley has played all year in the WAFL. He was only on a one-year extension so it is unlikely he will be renewed again. - Alex Malcolm

Fremantle will be desperate to lock in Zac Clarke for life post-Sandilands. Picture: AFL Media

With most of the Cats' big names locked away at least until the end of next season, veteran defender Jared Rivers shapes as the most important player yet to sign. Rivers signed a two-year deal when he joined Geelong from Melbourne in late 2012, but he is not expected to put pen to paper on a new contract until the end of this season. Another veteran backman, Corey Enright, is also out of contract at season's end, although the five-time All Australian is expected to retire when the Cats' 2014 campaign draws to a close. - Adam McNicol

He might not be a household name like some of his teammates, but ruckman Tom Nicholls is the highest priority for the Suns right now. Having already locked up David Swallow, Harley Bennell and Steven May earlier this year, Gold Coast is desperate to re-sign the 201cm, 98kg Nicholls. He is out of contract at season's end and has delayed contract talks. The 22-year-old has just 15 senior games to his name but in the absence of Zac Smith, proved he is a capable of starring at the top level. The Suns want him desperately, but quality ruckmen are highly sought after and they could have a fight on their hands. Skipper Gary Ablett and key position players Smith, Rory Thompson and Charlie Dixon are all off contract at the end of 2015, and would already be targets from rival clubs.  - Michael Whiting

GWS did an excellent job with its first round of contracts, locking their key players in until the end of 2015 and beyond. Jono O'Rourke and Kristian Jaksch are among a small handful of players off contract this year, but next year is where it gets interesting. Jeremy Cameron, Adam Treloar, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio, Jonathon Patton, Adam Tomlinson and Nick Haynes lead a host of the club's most important players that are yet to commit their futures long term. Of that class, Cameron looms as the most important. One article earlier this year already suggested he was considering a return home to Victoria. An All Australian at the age of 20, he is revered among his young teammates and his commitment could be the key to so many other Giants following suit. - James Dampney

GWS will want to re-sign Jeremy Cameron and Adam Treloar sooner rather than later. Picture: AFL Media

Ruckman Jonathon Ceglar's impressive season has made him a priority re-signing for the Hawks. Most of Hawthorn's list are ageing stars who are going nowhere, or already locked away – like Cyril Rioli and Bradley Hill, who are contracted until 2017. But the Hawks will want to secure Ceglar, 23, and speedster Billy Hartung on longer-term deals. Ceglar was upgraded from the rookie list this season, most likely on a two-year contract, and has grabbed his chance to keep Ben McEvoy out of the side. With David Hale on the wrong side of 30 and Port Adelaide keen to poach a ruckman, his value has skyrocketed. Hartung, 19, is signed until the end of 2015 and his pace makes him a rare commodity at the Hawks, who were shown up for speed by North Melbourne. Brian Lake is believed to have a trigger clause for next year, which he's unlikely to activate, but he could be offered a reduced deal. – Travis King

All eyes will be on James Frawley as he faces a life-changing decision – stay loyal to Melbourne or leave for greener pastures. Frawley, an unrestricted free agent, delayed contract talks with the Demons at the start of this year, preferring to see the direction the club was heading in before making a firm commitment. Although Melbourne remains intent on re-signing Frawley, Geelong is one of a number of clubs that have expressed interest in the 25-year-old defender. If Frawley decides to leave, Tom McDonald's signature becomes even more important. The young backman, who is out of contract at the end of this season, has shown vast improvement in his fourth year at the club. Buoyed by the re-signing of Lynden Dunn and Jesse Hogan, Neville Jetta and Rohan Bail will also be priorities for the Demons. - Ben Guthrie

Levi Greenwood has transformed himself from fringe player to key midfielder this season and is suddenly the Roos' highest-priority re-signing. In the last season of a three-year deal, Greenwood seemed headed for the AFL scrapheap after being overlooked for North's round one clash with Essendon, given he'd played a total of just 11 games in the previous two seasons. But since earning a recall in round two against the Western Bulldogs, the hard-running midfielder has been one of the Roos' most consistent players, establishing himself as a prolific ball-winner (25.6 possessions a game) while continuing to run with opposition stars.  Greenwood told last month his manager had opened negotiations with the Roos on a new deal. Other Roos out of contract at the end of this year include key defenders Nathan Grima and Joel Tippett, second-year utility Mason Wood and small forward Robin Nahas. - Nick Bowen

Levi Greenwood has risen from the fringes to the forefront at North this year. Picture: AFL Media
Captain Trent Cotchin comes out of contract at the end of 2015 and would be a restricted free agent at the end of that season if he didn't sign an extension with the Tigers. Hawthorn is reported to have already made an approach to Cotchin's management to inquire about his contract status. It is hard to imagine the midfield gun leaving Punt Road, but he is surely the club's list management priority. Dustin Martin will also be a priority next season after a standout 2014. Other key players with contracts that expire at the end of 2015 are midfielder Brandon Ellis and defenders Alex Rance and Dylan Grimes. Key defender David Astbury, meanwhile, is out of contract at the end of this season. - Nathan Schmook

The Power have done a sensational job in recent seasons of ensuring their key talent is signed on. Their greatest concern would be the status of ruckman Matthew Lobbe and forward Robbie Gray, both out of contract in 2015. The pair are two of the most important pieces in the Power puzzle and would be key priorities for list manager Jason Cripps. Jay Schulz will also fall out of contract at the end of 2015, at which point he'll have turned 30. The following season is set to prove a significant year for the club with a number of key personnel set to come out of contract in 2016, including Chad Wingard, Ollie Wines, Hamish Hartlett, Angus Monfries and Matt White - Harry Thring

Club champion Jack Steven is contracted until the end of the 2015 season, but he is the crucial signature for the Saints' list management team. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of 2015 – his eighth season – so St Kilda will be desperate to get negotiations moving before clubs start circling the speedy midfielder. Steven signed a two-year contract extension at the start of 2013 under former coach Scott Watters and went on to win the club champion award that season. At 24, he is the centrepiece in a young midfield that will include draftees Jack Billings, Luke Dunstan and Blake Acres. Players coming out of contract at the end of 2014 include Jarryn Geary, Sean Dempster and Nathan Wright. – Nathan Schmook 

Jack Steven's signature is a definite priority for the Saints. Picture: AFL Media

Considering Lance Franklin's arrival on his nine-year contract, the Swans have done an excellent job managing their list. Josh Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack and Dan Hannebery are among the key Swans locked into long-term deals to remain in Sydney. Craig Bird is coming out of contract and has emerged as an important member of the line-up. He can lock down an opposition player, kick the odd goal and gather plenty of possessions, averaging a career-best 21.2 per game this season. But Mike Pyke is the main name here. Also off contract at season's end, the club's first-choice ruckman is pivotal to the cause. Tom Derickx has come in this year and played 12 games, while Kurt Tippett and Sam Reid can help out and Toby Nankervis is developing well in the reserves. But with the finals looming, Pyke is the Swans' only proven tap option. - James Dampney

There is much speculation surrounding the contract situations of West Coast's ruckmen. The key figures are Dean Cox and Scott Lycett, although Callum Sinclair is also out of contract. Cox is yet to decide if he will go for another year. If the Eagles extend his contract then Lycett and Sinclair will have some decisions to make. Port Adelaide has already shown interest in Lycett but West Coast are keen to secure him long-term. Sinclair has performed well at AFL level when he has played and the Eagles would be keen to keep him as their third option if Cox goes. Andrew Gaff is another player out of contract, but the 22-year-old Victorian has indicated his desire to remain at West Coast long-term and it is understood that his management and the Eagles are well advanced in contract negotiations. - Alex Malcolm

After finally overcoming a frustrating run of injuries, Easton Wood has become an important cog in the backline and one player the Dogs can ill afford to lose. The 24-year-old gives his coach Brendan McCartney plenty of flexibility with the ability to play tall or small, while giving plenty of run off half-back. Another player out of contract at season's end, and with a similar story to Wood, is Shaun Higgins. The 26-year-old has finally shaken off the injury woes that have hampered his nine seasons at Whitten Oval. The gifted playmaker has been recast as a running defender with mixed results, and like Wood, he's played every game in 2014. Higgins also fits an age bracket in which the Dogs are light on for players. – Ryan Davidson