The latest on Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Dan Hamhuis, Justin Schultz and Jimmy Howard, plus updates on the Wild and Bruins in your NHL rumor mill. 

Possible Bruins trade targets.

Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle could be a trade option for the Bruins.

Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle could be a trade option for the Bruins.

CSNNE.COM: reports the Boston Bruins are in need of a top-pairing defenseman. Possible trade targets could include the Winnipeg Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien, Calgary Flames’ Dennis Wideman, New York Rangers’ Keith Yandle, St. Louis Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk, Edmonton Oilers’ Justin Schultz, Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen or Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild, the Carolina Hurricanes’ John-Michael Liles and the Vancouver Canucks’ Dan Hamhuis.

Of these, chances of landing Byfuglien are growing slimmer as the Jets focus on re-signing him, while Wideman’s 20-game suspension takes him out of the picture. The Bruins stand a better chance of landing Yandle via free agency or Shattenkirk via trade this summer. Schultz could be a realistic option, while Liles and Hamhuis could be options if attempts at a bigger move fall through. Acquiring one of either the Ducks or Wild’s young blueliners should be the priority for Bruins GM Don Sweeney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree that going after a young defenseman on the Ducks or Wild is a better long-term option for the Bruins. It’s believed they could deal pending UFA winger Loui Eriksson. While both clubs need scoring, they could be unwilling to part with a good young player for a rental. If they can’t find a decent return for Eriksson, they could keep him and look at acquiring a cheap rental blueliner for the remainder of this season. 

Latest on the Wild.

STARTRIBUNE.COM/TWINCITIES.COM: report Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher continues to explore trade options for a struggling club that dropped 10 of their last 11 games. Michael Russo reports there are many trade options available for Fletcher. While he has blue-line depth to draw upon for trade bait, it’s suffered a dent with Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon sidelined by injuries. “Pending free agents Justin Fontaine, Jarret Stoll and Ryan Carter wouldn’t get much and the Wild doesn’t own its second-, third- or fifth-round pick in this year’s draft or its second-round pick in 2018,” writes Russo. He notes another option is to trade young players, but deadline “buyers” don’t usually conduct business that way.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have gone through previous midseason slumps the last two years only to recover and reach the playoffs. Fletcher made a season-saving deal last January by acquiring goalie Devan Dubnyk. He’s already tried to bolster his struggling offense last month by pitching Brodin to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen prior to shipping the latter to Nashville. He’ll continue shopping for help, but injuries to Brodin and Spurgeon could make it difficult. If he’s willing to trade Dumba there will be considerable interest, but that’s a move he might not want to make.

Latest on Jimmy Howard.

MLIVE.COM: Responding to a reader’s question over the future of Detroit Red Wings former starting goalie Jimmy Howard, Ansar Khan speculates the Wings could try to trade him in the offseason. He suspects the Wings will have to pick up part of Howard’s $5.3-million salary cap hit or take back someone else’s unwanted contract, preferably one not as expensive as Howard’s. Khan suggests the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres could be in the market for a starter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets seem content with young goalie Connor Hellebuyck and could try to move out Ondrej Pavelec and his $3.9 million cap hit, so I doubt they’re a fit for Howard. The Sabres could continue to put their faith in Robin Lehner. That’ll leave the Flames as perhaps the only option. 

Highlights from Garrioch’s “Insider Trading.”

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports three league executives believe the Winnipeg Jets will move left wing Andrew Ladd by the Feb. 29 trade deadline. It’s also believes the Jets are making a serious effort to re-sign defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. It’s also believes contract talks aren’t going smoothly with restricted free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba with the two sides having a lot of work to do to get a deal done.

The Montreal Canadiens are listening to offers for pending UFA forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise along with defenceman Tom Gilbert.

There’s ongoing talk the Washington Capitals could be interested in Vancouver Canucks blueliner Dan Hamhuis, as there’s concern over the health of Caps rearguard Brooks Orpik, who’s missed most of this season.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz could draw plenty of interest if the Oilers decide to put the pending restricted free agent on the trade block.

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello is working the phones trying to get ahead of other potential sellers at the trade deadline.

The Carolina Hurricanes are closer to a playoff spot, but they’re no closer to re-signing captain Eric Staal, who might be moved at the deadline.