Family ties assist Giants boss Keefe in signing former NHL winger Baun
Adam Keefe has pulled off a major signing coup ahead of the new Elite League season, with the help of his brother.
The Belfast Giants coach has made Kyle Baun the 200th player to sign for the club and he comes to the SSE Arena just two years after playing in the NHL.
The 26-year-old finished last season with American Hockey League side the Toronto Marlies, where Keefe's brother Sheldon is the coach.
Joining Baun on the Giants roster for the new season is another forward, Francis Beauvillier, who himself displayed NHL credentials in his youth, being drafted by the Florida Panthers, but never making it into 'The Show'.
Baun played three times for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2014-15 season, despite being undrafted, and twice more the following season, and it is the ability that got him there that made Keefe want to bring the Toronto-born forward to Belfast.
"I spoke to my brother about Kyle and he gave me the heads-up about what kind of player to expect," said Keefe. "He had some games in the NHL and then a couple of full years in the American League. To get a guy of that calibre to come straight to Belfast is great and we're happy to have him on-board."
Beauvillier, 24, will add toughness to the team and Giants as they try to win the Elite League title for the first time since 2014.
"Francis is a guy that I did my homework on," said Keefe.
"He is a guy that everyone speaks very highly of. He's very fast, he's physical and he can put the puck in the net. When you get a combination like that, as we've seen recently with Darcy Murphy, it breeds success and Francis is no different."
With 19 players on the roster, Keefe isn't done yet. He still needs at least one more defenceman and is prepared to wait to see which free agents aren't successful in getting contracts at a higher level.
"Depth is an important thing for us and we want to make sure that we have all bases covered," said Keefe.