LEEDS CHIEFS’ boss Sam Zajac says the arrival of forward Adam Barnes on a two-way deal from Elite League outfit Manchester Storm is something that will benefit all parties involved.
The 20-year-old chalked up 50 appearances for the Altrincham-based club last season in the UK top-flight, although found minutes hard to come by more often than not.
But he is expected to play a major role with the Chiefs once they get their first-ever campaign up and running in the newly-formed NIHL National league which they begin with a trip to Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday, September 15.
“These kind of deals are really huge for a club like ours and are going to help a lot, especially in the first season while we get established,” said Zajac.
He’s a very talented player, fantastic offensively, has a really good shot and, in our league, I feel he’s going to be really dangerous.Sam Zajac on new two-way forward, Adam Barnes.
“It allows you to get young, hungry players who maybe aren’t quite ready to get the regular minutes they are after in the EIHL. And they know that if they can make a big impact with us and we can help them develop and maybe send them back in a year or two a better, all-round player then that is a good thing.”
Barnes spent his formative years at Bradford Bulldogs between 2011-2015 before heading to North America to play midget league at the Ontario Hockey Academy before spending a season in the EHL with New England Wolves.
That prompted a return to his hometown of Manchester where he was picked up by the Storm for the 2018-19 season, which saw him impress in NIHL One North for Blackburn Hawks, for who he showed his offensive prowess by registering 22 points, including 16 goals in just 16 appearances.
Zajac is convinced Barnes will prove one of the best forwards in the new second-tier.
“In the majority of games with the Storm last season, he didn’t see a great deal of ice time, although there were times when he saw a lot more ice,” added Zajac.
“Where he is in his development, he knows he needs to be playing competitive games and while training at that higher level does bring benefits, it doesn’t really replace the competitiveness that he’s going to see with us.
“I played against him a couple of times when he was at Blackburn at the start of last season year and then there were a few games where I went and helped out Manchester and they were short and I recognised his abilities when I was there.
“Manchester’s coach Ryan Finnerty, who I know quite well, speaks very highly of him too. He’s a very talented player, fantastic offensively, has a really good shot and, in our league, I feel he’s going to be really dangerous.
“He could probably do with putting a little bit of size on, but that’s something that we could help him out with and his two-way game is something we’ll be looking to develop. But, offensively, he’s going to be one of the better players in our league.”