Bob Carpenter's agent said yesterday the Capitals forward wants to stay in Washington, but might have to consider seriously offers from other teams.

Bob Murray, Carpenter's Boston-based agent, would not say which other teams have expressed interest in Carpenter, but said that five or six have shown "sincere interest," and that "more than one" of them is in the Patrick Division along with Washington.

Murray said he met Monday with Carpenter, who just returned from a European vacation, to discuss the negotiations. Murray said Carpenter had a "mixed reaction" when told that there still was considerable distance between the two parties.

"He was disappointed (about) where we were relative to the Washington Capitals, disappointed in the offer to date and disappointed in their not reacting," Murray said. "But he was pleased with the response from other teams, and pleased that some others have shown interest. But we're still hoping to work something out with the Capitals."

Carpenter had 53 goals and 42 assists last season for the Capitals, by far his best season statistically. He did it while playing out his option, which put him in a much stronger negotiating position.

Carpenter, who turned 22 Saturday, falls under the older compensation system in use in the National Hockey League, called Category One. It applies to players who are under 24 and have played less than five years in the league.

Under that system, the team that signs the free agent and the team losing him propose compensation -- players, draft choices, cash or any combination thereof. If the teams cannot agree, an NHL arbitration board will decide.

"It's not a matter of Bob running out of patience," Murray said. "He's disappointed (about) where we are and, depending on what happens, he will have to give serious consideration to the other teams. Again, he hopes to stay in Washington, but he has to look at it from a financial standpoint, too."

Capitals General Manager David Poile said he plans to try to meet with Murray and Carpenter next week in Boston.

"The next step is to meet in person and maybe put all the cards on the table, rather than communicating by phone or by letter," Poile said yesterday. "Then we might have a little more definitive statement about where we both are."

Carpenter, reached at his home in Peabody, Mass., declined to comment.