How the Jacob Trouba partner search could play out

You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Rangers.

The Rangers’ biggest need is for a partner to play with Jacob Trouba. Would you trade a defenseman like K’Andre Miller and maybe a draft pick for Jonas Brodin, who was supposedly available at the deadline? — Gerald S.

And here I thought Rangerstown was all-in on the rebuild. It would be folly to trade for Brodin, who would fill the top spot on the left side brilliantly but who will be entering the final year of his contract at a $4,166,667 cap hit en route to unrestricted free agency. The Rangers are not in the “one player away” mode that would justify trading a prospect with Miller’s upside for a one-season rental. (Do you expect the Blueshirts would be in position to sign the soon-to-be 27-year-old Swede to a long-term extension for an expected going price of $7.5 million?)

Brendan Smith impressed everyone with the way he played as Trouba’s partner in the nine games that followed Brady Skjei’s trade to Carolina, but that’s not likely a long-term pairing. Libor Hajek, still just 22, will get a shot to compete for the job (maybe even as soon as next month). So, in time, will Miller.

But David Quinn also has the option of splitting the Ryan Lindgren-Adam Fox tandem and moving Lindgren up to Trouba’s left if the team can find a compatible partner for Fox.

I recently listened to a podcast on Steve Durbano. I see the Rangers had two picks in round 1 in 1971 and took [Steve] Vickers and Durbano … and passed on Larry Robinson. Any intel on what The Cat (Emile Francis) might have been thinking then? — Robert Candeloro

The Bruins selected a defenseman named Ron Jones, who played a total of eight games for Boston and 54 in the NHL, sixth overall and I don’t know what GM Milt Schmidt was thinking, either. California selected defenseman Ken Baird, who played a sum of 10 games for the Golden Seals and in the NHL, 10th overall, and I don’t have a clue what GM Fred Glover was thinking, either.

Robinson would go second behind first-overall Guy Lafleur in a 1971 redraft (unless you prefer Marcel Dionne) and not 19th, as was the case. So many general managers would have some explaining to do. Of course, scouting in 1971 was not the sophisticated business into which it has grown.

Do you feel Colin Campbell did not know how to utilize Alex Kovalev? He traded away one of the best skating and puck handling forwards of his time. — Raymond Lahey

Kovalev could be a maddening player to coach, but Campbell in particular seemed to have no patience for, and limited appreciation of, No. 27. The Rangers botched it with Kovalev. Indeed, the relationship between Campbell and Kovalev would have dominated the Twittersphere if the medium had existed in the 90s.

What If … [Mike] Richter stops that 70-foot shot from Ron Francis in Game 4 up by two goals? They probably win the Stanley Cup because the 1991-92 Rangers were probably a better-skilled team than the 1994 one. — Frank Bifulco

The better-skilled team doesn’t necessarily win, or should I refer you to last season’s first-round, four-game sweep of the Lightning by the Blue Jackets? Perhaps a stronger team, such as the 1993-94 squad, would have been able to overcome the gaffe by Richter. The bigger picture “what-ifs,” applying to this instance, however, are whether Roger Neilson would have made it through 1992-93 coming off a Stanley Cup and whether it ever would have been necessary to bring Mike Keenan to Broadway?

Which ill-fated trade do you think set the organization back more … [Sergei] Zubov/[Petr] Nedved to Pittsburgh for [Luc] Robitaille/[Ulf] Samuelsson, or [Ian] Laperrière/[Mattias] Norstrom/Ray Ferraro/Nathan LaFayette to LA for [Jari] Kurri/[Marty] McSorley/Shane Churla? — James Sena

The Pittsburgh deal was not even close to as damaging as was that foolish trade with the Kings.

I know the league wants more offense and power plays, but isn’t it time to get rid of the ridiculous delay of game penalty for putting the puck over the glass? Does anyone really do this on purpose — even if they do, how is this any different from icing? — Mike D

I don’t think it’s ridiculous, at all. In fact, players would do this intentionally all of time if it were eliminated.