Andreas Nodl spent much of last season on the Canes' fourth line, often playing with center Tim Brent, although he was used at times on the third line.
Nodl's ice time was limited. It was also a crazy season for him in that he was claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers in late November and immediately found himself playing for a new team that had just hired a new coach, Kirk Muller.
But with the NHL's condensed schedule this year, with 48 games to be crammed into about 100 days, Nodl expects Muller to lean more on all of his forwards.
"From what I heard, we'll play about four games a week," Nodl said Friday after skating at Raleigh Center ice. "Think about it. There's no way we can only roll three lines. That's impossible. You'll need every guy.
"The fourth line will get a lot of minutes, I feel like. I think without four good lines I don't think you can accomplish too much."
Nodl, 25, was one of Canes who left to go overseas during the NHL lockout. A native of Vienna, Austria, and one of three Austrians in the NHL last season, he went back to play for HC Innsbruck in the Austrian Hockey League.
"It was great," Nodl said. "I played 20 minutes a night. I think that's huge to be playing, especially as a young player. You can practice all you want, you can skate all you want. But playing in games is totally different.
"When you come in in September (for training camp) you're in good shape but not good hockey shape. I'm in pretty good hockey shape. I feel better than I did in September."
Nodl said about 15 NHL players were in the league and the competition level was "pretty good." He said there was another form of competition, too -- imports coming into the league and claiming spots usually filled by Austrians.
"The competition was high, so that was good for us, but not for Austrians trying to accomplish something," he said.
Nodl returned to Philadelphia from Austria in early December. His fiancee was pregnant, he said, and a baby girl was born on Christmas Eve.
Nodl played 48 games for the Canes last season, finishing with seven points (3 goals, 4 assists). He'll go into this season more at ease, he said, feeling that he belongs.
"Last year it was my first trade," he said. "The first month or so, I'm not going to say it was uncomfortable but when you're with a team a little longer you do have that comfort factor. You can just feel better."