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Penguins will carry a $132,500 salary cap penalty into the 2019-20 season

Not a huge deal, but for a team right up against the cap they’ll be a little tighter

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins will have a small penalty to pay in 2019-20, due to a performance bonus that caused them to go over the upper limit of the salary cap in 2018-19.

I haven’t gotten confirmation yet, but I believe the bonus is tied to Jake Guentzel’s entry level contract. Coming off an 82 game, 40 goal season that’s the type of year that tends to be incentivized, and is well worth paying. Only players on entry level contracts and players signed for 35+ contracts can receive bonuses, which are paid out of a team’s remaining salary cap space at the end of the year. If the team doesn’t have enough space left (like the six above) they have to carry the same amount over as a penalty for the following year. Luckily, it’s not punitive and there’s no extra cost to push the money forward.

What does this mean? Well, not too much, more just accounting and a $132k penalty on a big cap is a drop in the bucket. But it’s something to account for with a team like the Penguins that consistently wrings every last dollar out of the salary cap.

Remember back in 2017-18, the Pens navigated to within a mere $950 dollars of the upper limit of the cap, to avoid having an overage penalty in 2018-19 for this past season. That type of financial management is really good for a complicated salary cap that’s calculated every single day during the regular season.

But the Pens obviously weren’t able to avoid a penalty this time around, and that could be a factor too since the NHL has walked back their earlier cap projections for 2019-20.

The salary cap ceiling in 2018-19 was $79.5 million.

Related: the Pittsburgh Penguins salary cap outlook after the Olli Maatta trade

NBC’s Sean Leahy has speculated the lack of exact knowledge of the 2019-20 cap might mean a quiet trading environment this weekend at the NHL draft, which at this point makes it look all the more important that Pittsburgh took care of securing valuable cap space last week by trading Olli Maatta to Chicago for Dominik Kahun.

We’ll see how that goes, a low six-figure overage penalty shouldn’t stop Pittsburgh from doing what they want to do this off-season, but it again is another reminder that the team continues to scrape the very upper limit of what an NHL club is allowed to spend on salary every year.