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Next season’s roster begins to take shape

Congratulations to the Toronto Marlies, who capped the 2017-18 AHL season on June 14 with a 6-1 victory over the Texas Stars in Game 7 of the Calder Cup Final.

The Marlies became the first Canadian team to capture the Calder Cup since the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2006-07. Know which team succeeded Hamilton as Calder Cup champs? That’s right: the Chicago Wolves – and now it’s the Wolves’ mission to succeed Toronto as the champs.

Though the free-agency signing period doesn’t arrive until Sunday, the Wolves roster for 2018-19 already is taking shape.

The Vegas Golden Knights have signed forwards Tomas Hyka (48 points in 50 games), Stefan Matteau (15 goals in 60 games), Tyler Wong (3 goals, 4 assists) and defenseman Zac Leslie (17 points in 27 games with the Wolves) to new deals. Center T.J. Tynan (60 points in 70 games) and defenseman Griffin Reinhart can return for the second year of their Vegas deals while Brooks Macek, the leading goal-scorer in Germany’s DEL, just inked a two-way contract with the Golden Knights.

Rock-solid defensemen Jake Bischoff (23 points in 69 games) and Nicolas Hague (1 point in 5 games) are on their entry-level contracts along with forwards Keegan Kolesar (13 points in 44 games) and Reid Duke. There are several prospects in Vegas’ pipeline – including 2017 first-round draft pick Erik Brannstrom — who figure to be a part of the Wolves this season.

The Wolves have re-signed defenseman Kevin Lough (10 points in 45 games) and made deals with young forwards Ryan Wagner (1 assist in 7 games/MVP at Wisconsin) and Matthew Weis (122 points in four years at Ohio State). Free agency figures to be a profitable time for the Wolves’ outlook as well.