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Coyotes shift Gagner to center for opener vs. Jets

by Jerry Brown / NHL.com

JETS (0-0-0) at COYOTES (0-0-0)

TV: TSN3, FS-A

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes don't have a lot of offensive firepower, but they are trying to spread the wealth they have as far as possible.

After playing much of the preseason on a wing among the top-six forwards, center Sam Gagner will make his Arizona debut at center as the Coyotes open the season against the Winnipeg Jets in a battle of teams that figure to have uphill climbs in the rugged Western Conference.

Gagner was centering a line between Lauri Korpikoski and Rob Klinkhammer at the morning skate. That elevates David Moss to a line with Martin Erat and Martin Hanzal. The Coyotes open the season with four straight home games spread over two weeks and are hoping to get off to a good start with games against the Jets, Los Angeles Kings, the Edmonton Oilers (Gagner's former team) and the St. Louis Blues.

"You want to take advantage of these home games to start the season because that's the way the schedule is laid out," Gagner said. "But if you started the season on the road with four games, you'd say it was a great chance to bond right out of the gate. The schedule is put out and you play the games."

By contrast, the Jets start their season with a tough three-game road trip over four days. And with games to follow against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday and Los Angeles Kings on Monday, a good start against the Coyotes is important.

The Jets made a roster move Thursday, sending center Eric O'Dell to the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League. Defenseman Adam Hardy will play over Paul Postma on defense.

Here are the projected lineups:

JETS

Evander Kane -- Mark Scheifele-- Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd -- Bryan Little -- Michael Frolik

Adam Lowry -- Mathieu Perreault -- Dustin Byfuglien

TJ Galiardi -- Jim Slater -- Chris Thorburn

Zach Bogosian -- Jacob Trouba

Mark Stuart -- Tobias Enstrom

Adam Pardy -- Grant Clitsome

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Matt Halischuk, Paul Postma

Injured: None

COYOTES

Mikkel Boedker -- Antoine Vermette -- Shane Doan

Martin Erat -- Martin Hanzal -- David Moss

Lauri Korpikoski -- Sam Gagner -- Rob Klinkhammer

Brandon McMillan -- Joe Vitale -- B.J. Crombeen

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Zbynek Michalek

Keith Yandle -- Michael Stone

Chris Summers -- Connor Murphy

Mike Smith

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Kyle Chipchura, Justin Hodgman, David Schlemko

Injured: None

Status report: Despite leading the team with five points in the preseason, Hodgman is a scratch. … Doan has three goals and 12 points in 18 career season-openers. … This is the ninth time the Coyotes have opened a season at home since moving to Arizona in 1996-97, and they are 7-1-0 in the previous eight games. … The Jets are a big reason why the Coyotes, who missed the playoffs by two points in 2013-14, failed to reach the postseason. Winnipeg swept three games, with Arizona collecting only two of six possible points (0-1-2). … The Jets are 98-91-23 in three seasons since relocating to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 season.

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