The Paper Feature is a weekly column and sidebars that appears in the print edition of the Vancouver Courier newspaper. Track it down!
A shocking trade report showed up in my Twitter feed this week: the Canucks sent embattled 23-year-old winger Nikolay Goldobin to the Edmonton Oilers for former 4th-overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi, who has struggled this season but is just 20 years old and still has significant potential.
If that trade sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Though the tweet, on the surface, appeared to be from the official Vancouver Canucks Twitter account, it was a blatant fake. It looked real enough to fool some people, however, before it was reported and deleted.
The NHL trade deadline is on Monday, February 25th. In the days leading up to the deadline, it can be tough to avoid being fooled by false reports and rumours. How can you tell which one are reliable and which ones are bupkis? The best way to avoid being fooled is to consider the source.
Source: A reliable beat reporter or the team itself, directly reporting on a trade. Only the trade looks weirdly familiar, like you’ve seen it before.
Reliability: Suspect. Check the date of the report: people will have a little fun heading into the deadline retweeting and sharing trades from the past that could plausibly take place today. If you see any reports that the Canucks have acquired Brendan Leipsic, for instance, be suspicious and check the date.
Source: A Twitter account that has to be an NHL insider, because it says “insider” in their Twitter name. They also claim to be a former player and scout, with contacts throughout the league, so they have to be trustworthy, despite their mysteriously blank profile picture and complete anonymity.
Reliability: None whatsoever. These “insider” accounts are all about throwing as many made-up rumours at the wall as possible and hoping something sticks for which they can take credit. At best, their rumours are educated guesses — I, too, suspect that basement-dwelling teams will trade their pending unrestricted free agents to contenders for prospects and/or draft picks. They’re not trade deadline reports; they’re trade deadline fan fiction.
Source: Your cousin Karlie, who is in a baby playgroup with a woman whose other child goes to elementary school with the child of one of the Canucks and claims to hear all sorts of juicy — and totally reliable! — rumours while trying to keep her son from throwing blocks at the other babies.
Reliability: Next to none. You can’t trust people who spell “Carly” with a “K” and an “ie,” but there are no secrets in baby playgroup, so there’s always a chance that her rumours could be on the up-and-up.
Source: The ever-reliable Bob McKenzie on Twitter, but no one else seems to be talking about it. This should be a huge deal! Why isn’t this everywhere by now?
Reliability: Zilch. The reason it’s not everywhere is because Bob McKenzie’s Twitter handle is @TSNBobMcKenzie, not @TSNBorbMckenzle, @RobertMcKenzie, or @TSNBeerMcKoozie. The trade deadline brings fake accounts purporting to be McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun, or Nick Kypreos, but it’s easy to tell the difference: those three all have hundreds of thousands of followers, not 12.
Source: A beat reporter for one of the teams involved.
Reliability: Fairly reliable. If it’s a trade report, take it to the bank, but if it’s just a rumour, keep in mind that reporters sometimes get intentional leaks from organizations looking to affect the trade market. The rumour itself may very well be true, if incomplete, missing key information like retained salary, another player involved, or which team was actually making the offer in question.
Source: A real NHL insider working for TSN, Sportsnet, CBC, or ESPN.
Reliability: As reliable as rumours and reports can get. They suffer from some of the same issues as beat reporters, getting intentional leaks from teams, but they have sources throughout the league and the best of them can pretty quickly sort out fact from fiction. Their reputations rely on accuracy, with a mistake haunting them for years.
Bob McKenzie is the gold standard, favouring caution when he’s unsure of a rumour’s reliability. You could do far worse on trade deadline day than just following McKenzie on Twitter and ignoring the rest.
Or you can just wait until Tuesday after the trade deadline is over because the immediacy of the modern world is a stress-inducing nightmare and you don't actually need to know the moment something happens. Just a thought.
Stick-taps and Glove-drops
I’m dropping the gloves with Ryan Getzlaf, who managed to injure two Canucks in their game against the Ducks last week. Getzlaf accidentally landed on Chris Tanev’s foot, tweaking his ankle, and he “accidentally” collided with Jake Virtanen, fracturing a rib.
A tap of the stick to Jim Benning for the Ryan Spooner/Sam Gagner trade. The deal gives both Spooner and Gagner a chance to revitalize their NHL careers considering they were both in the AHL. Spooner will likely get a top-six opportunity right away and he could bounce back from a rough season, while Gagner wasn't going to get another opportunity in Vancouver.
48 - With the trade for Marek Mazanec, the signing of Michael Leighton, and the expected signing of Quinn Hughes, the Canucks are up to 48 professional contracts. That leaves them just two more before they reach the limit of 50.
49 - Canucks prospect Jett Woo currently has 49 points in 49 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors, good for fourth in points-per-game among WHL defencemen.