But Rutherford felt he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to acquire Matheson, 26, with Sceviour, 31, a move that comes weeks after Pittsburgh added the 24-year-old forward. Kasperi Kapanen from Toronto.
“We talked about rejuvenating, making changes and trying to transition on the fly,” Rutherford said in a media conference call Thursday. “We were lucky to have a good young defender who has a high level of competence, and also a right winger who is a good player who plays his role very well. So we thought we had to do it. ”
Rutherford acknowledged that the loss of Hornqvist would certainly be felt, but it’s one that the other players in the locker room are going to have to step up and fill.
“I have nothing but great things to say about him as a person and as a player,” Rutherford said of Hornqvist. “He’s one of the best players in our league with his leadership. That’s why Florida wanted him. They want a culture change, similar to what I talked about when I first came to Pittsburgh.
“So we’ll miss him, but when you miss a player like that, other players have to close the gap. The players have to mature, and I hope there are players who have learned from Patric and learned some of the things he does very well to help other players. ”
Matheson joins the Penguins after a season where he finished with eight goals – which led all Panthers defensemen – and 20 points in 59 games.
Overall, he has 33 goals, 58 assists and 91 points in 299 NHL games, all with Florida. He eclipsed the 10-goal plateau once in 2017-18 and scored at least seven goals in each of his four full seasons in the NHL.
And Rutherford believes Matheson’s game will continue to grow and mature in Pittsburgh under the tutelage of the Penguins’ coaching staff – especially assistant coach Todd Reirden.
Reirden, who returns to Pittsburgh after six seasons on the coaching staff of the Washington Capitals, has a proven track record of developing young defensemen. Kris Letang played among the best hockey players of his career in Reirden’s first stint as an assistant coach from 2010 to 2014, and John Carlson became a Norris Trophy finalist last season.
“I think the way Mike Sullivan manages the players and with the addition of Todd Reirden and the way he handled the Penguins defenseman when he was here as an assistant coach is going to be helpful to Mike,” said Rutherford. “He has a very good package there. He can really skate. He has a good shot. He plays like we like to play. I think it will fit very well into our system. ”
Matheson is a left shot, which Rutherford confirmed will likely mean someone on the blue line will have to play offside.
“Matheson played a bit on the right side,” he said. “But there’s a blockage there, and something will have to give way. ”
Meanwhile, adding a striker to bolster Pittsburgh’s depth – especially with the loss of Hornqvist – is an added bonus to the deal.
Sceviour has played 454 career NHL games split between Dallas and Florida, registering 59 goals, 82 assists and 141 points. Last season, his 172: 32 minutes shorthanded time on the ice in 2019-2020 punctuated all skaters in Florida and placed eighth among all forwards in the NHL.
“Colton is a solid, veteran player with a lot of experience on the penalty spot,” said Rutherford.
Matheson is signed for the 2025-2026 season and his contract carries an average annual value of $ 4.875 million. Sceviour is signed during the 2020-2021 campaign and his agreement carries an average annual value of $ 1.2 million.
So, with Hornqvist’s $ 5.3 million hit on the books, the Penguins ultimately added $ 775,000 to their salary cap. And while Rutherford has admitted he’s not entirely comfortable with the squad’s current situation, he’s confident he can make it work.
“I’m comfortable to the point that we are in control of the fact that we can stay in compliance,” said Rutherford. “But I think we’re probably like two-thirds of the teams in the league. We were told last January that the cap could be 86.87 (million) and then we were told it would probably be 84 (million). Of course, with COVID everything has changed and we have a fixed cap this year and next year. It’s difficult to manage, but at least we are now able to comply with the cap under our own control. ”