Damien Cox mock draft: Breaking down the top 10 picks

It was definitely a down year for Canadian hockey teams, but the silver lining is being able to draft the next great superstar.

We won’t know the official NHL draft order until April 30, so it’s still anyone’s guess as to who will have a chance to land projected No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews.

We ran a simulated draft lottery, which was won by Winnipeg, moving the Jets to the top pick. They were followed by Toronto and Calgary, moving Edmonton to the No. 4 pick.

Using this simulated order, Damien Cox shares how he sees the top 10 selections playing out:

Winnipeg Jets: Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (Swiss)
Matthews and Mark Scheifele would sure make a terrific one-two combination. Combine that with Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor and others, the Jets would have a pretty electric group of young forwards. Depth on defence with Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey makes this pick a no-brainer.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Patrik Laine, LW, Tappara (Finland)
The Leafs are developing a skill-first philosophy throughout the organization, but at this point lack size to go with that skill up front. Laine is a 6-foot-3 winger with a nose for the net. He would be a nice complement to the likes of William Nylander and Mitch Marner.

Calgary Flames: Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (Finland)
The Flames also want to get bigger up front, and have Mark Jankowski and Brett Pollock on the way. Puljujarvi might be more NHL-ready than both prospects, and could be a nice running mate for either Sean Monahan or Sam Bennett in the coming years.

Edmonton Oilers: Olli Juolevi, D, London Knights (OHL)
As always, there will be a temptation to take a forward. But Edmonton is desperate for blue-line talent to go with Darnell Nurse, and Juolevi is likely to be the best rearguard available. GM Peter Chiarelli is expected to move some of his core and could also get defence help that way.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Alexander Nylander, LW, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
The Blue Jackets are stacked with young blue-line talent in Ryan Murray, Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Columbus has size coming in Kerby Rychel, Paul Bittner and Keegan Kolesar, among others. Skill up front to replace that lost when Ryan Johansen was dealt to Nashville would help.

Vancouver Canucks: Jake Bean, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
This would be the first surprise of the first round. The Canucks have lots of needs, but a crafty, puck-moving D-man would be a huge help. Bean has rocketed up the prospect charts this winter. Ben Hutton is currently Vancouver’s highest scoring rearguard.

Arizona Coyotes: Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London Knights (OHL)
How perfect would this be? His dad, Keith, played five seasons in the desert, and the younger Tkachuk would make a perfect linemate for Dylan Strome. The Coyotes could use some depth on the back end, but another big forward might be too hard to resist.

Montreal Canadiens: Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW/C, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Dubois has size and is probably the most versatile player in the early part of the draft, capable of playing all three forward positions. You do wonder if, with an aging Andrei Markov, the Habs might look to take another D-man after drafting Noah Juulsen in the first round last year.

Buffalo Sabres: Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
At one point, the hulking blue-liner looked like he might compete with Matthews for the top pick. But he’s still an excellent prospect with a chance of being a top-pair defenceman. With Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe and Brendan Guhle, the Sabres are building a young defence corps.

Ottawa Senators: Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
The Senators struggled on the back end all season, even after adding Dion Phaneuf. They’ve got the brilliant Erik Karlsson and youngster Cody Ceci, plus Thomas Chabot on the way. While a game-breaker forward would be nice, Sergachev can skate and make plays.

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