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While one could point an accusing finger at the Smith bonuses as being the full amount of the shortfall, he would never have signed for such a low base salary without them. He played the games and earned those bonuses in the process. Fingers could better be pointed at such matters as the $1,175,000 of Brandon Manning‘s bloated contract that couldn’t be buried in the AHL even as the player himself was. Thus a case could be made that that pact, acquired on one of Peter Chairelli’s less-accomplished days, will continue to impact the Oilers cap space for up to two more years.

One might also look askance at the $750,000 of retained salary that was retained when Holland sent Lucic packing. Again, that single expense item was more than the full amount of the overage. Another mistake of past regimes that continues to have negative impact in the present and the future.

Ultimately, though, 2019-20 happened on Ken Holland’s watch. With the book now closed on the affable GM’s first season, Oilers fans can point to some obviously improved performance by the team as a whole, but there are a few accounts payable. One of them, detailed in this post, is a shortfall of four draft picks in the next two NHL Drafts. And as detailed above, a pending salary cap penalty that will be imposed over the next one, or more likely two, seasons. These debts incurred by a team that ultimately did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. It stings.

Best way to account for the cap penalty going forward is to think of it as yet more dead cap space. The same category, in other words, as a further $750,000 retained on Lucic in 2020-21, or a combined $3.8+ million towards the buyouts of Andrej Sekera and Benoit Pouliot. To those amounts we can now add half or all of $670,000 or so, with the combined dead cap in the range of $5 million next season.

Such a frustrating way to lose cap space, especially in this new era of the flat cap where every dollar is precious. Alas, the dreams of the future must continue to pay for the mistakes of the past.

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Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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