News conferences are often dull, but the Vancouver Canucks news conference this morning was about as entertaining as you can get. The team called a surprise conference to announce another trade by the Canucks. The deal was struck with the Edmonton Oilers. This deal only further changed the dynamic of the Canucks revamped defence. Coming over from the Oilers is defenceman Karel Rachunek. In return, GM Sean Keogh gave up fellow young defenceman Tom Preissing and promising young forward Michael Zigomanis. Joining the team on defence for next year are established top four defencemen such as Alexei Zhitnik, Karlis Skrastins, Jiri Slegr, David Tanabe. Brian Pothier, Steve McCarthy, Dan Focht and Rick Berry are all battling for the final two spots on the roster, although the latter two are said to be available. When asked why the team acquired Rachunek, Keogh explained that "we've always coveted Karel for his impressive offensive upside and slick puck moving abilities. We expect him to play a significant role on our blueline for years to come, and I'm truly excited to see him and Tanabe running the show back there." On the loss of Preissing: "Preissing could easily end up being just as good as Karel. We signed him out of college and I can't say enough good things about him. We feel Karel has slightly higher upside and is more proven as well, but Tom will serve the Edmonton Oilers well for years to come." When the topic turns to Zigomanis, Keogh's tone changes significantly: "Mike is a good young player who gave up on his chances in our organization. He felt that he would not get a chance at center with us because of Eric [Staal], Evgeni [Malkin], Jeff [Taffe], Antoine [Vermette], Manny [Malhotra] and Brooks [Laich], and his other position is RW, where we are similarily stacked for the future." Keogh went on to say that "I respect Mike's feelings but do not appreciate the way he went about airing his grievances. We wish him the best though." But it was not as much the trade that made headlines as much as Keogh calling out fellow GMs Josh Pitt of Buffalo and Dion Ong of Carolina. Last night, the two teams completed a trade that sent recently signed unrestricted free agent Sergei Zubov to Buffalo for three other players, one of which is Joe Niewendyk, another recently signed unrestricted free agent. Keogh's frustration was over the fact that Niewendyk had rejected the Canucks contract offer, opting to join the Buffalo Sabres instead. It was believed Niewendyk simply wanted a better chance at getting to the playoffs. Keogh had the following to say on the issue: "I'm not impressed. I hope agents and players take notice because the reason Joe Niewendyk was even signed by the Sabres and not by us was because the Sabres gave him a better chance to make the playoffs. Now he's dealt to Carolina, which is anything but a great hockey market, with a team that one what, a dozen games last year? I can guarantee that had Joe known he would end up in Carolina after signing with Buffalo, he would have signed with us." When asked whether he felt the league should have stepped in, Keogh simply said that "there is nothing the league can do, and I can't hold it against Josh and Dion for acting within the written rules." He is right. There are no restrictions on trading unrestricted free agents at any point. With the HFNHL not allowing no-trade clauses, players have to take a team's word on some things. It usually goes without saying that if a player signs a contract as an unrestricted free agent, especially one for seven million dollars (like Zubov), that they will at least start the season on that team. "I guess in the end one just has to hope that breaking these un-written rules will come back to haunt them, because otherwise the whole system will collapse because no agent or player will ever trust a general manager again," said a stern-faced Keogh. The season is set to begin in October, and it is expected the Canucks will remain quiet up until that point. Stan Smyl Vancouver Province Disclaimer: While all is fair in love and war...the criticism of Mr. Pitt and Captain Ong are made in jest, as I do not take this all quite that seriously.