2004-05: Drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round of the 2005 NHL Draft, 64th overall.
2005-06: After being drafted in the third round of the 2005 NHL entry draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, Barnes had 52 points in 55 games (25 goals) with the Saskatoon Blades. A big part of the reason the Blades went to the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Medicine Hat Tigers, in seven playoff games the 19-year-old had two goals and four assists.
2006-07: As a rookie with the Albany River Rats, Barnes managed to get in 15 games at the start of the season, scoring two goals and adding an assist, with a +3 rating, before a major concussion cut his season short in early December. On July 17, 2007, Barnes was traded to the Rangers, in a trade that brought Andrew Hutchinson to New York.
2007-08: Barnes was assigned to the ECHL Charlotte Checkers and missed all but five games with a knee injury.