Washington Capitals General Manager David Poile says he has made a new offer to Bob Carpenter in the hope that the holdout center will report to training camp this week.

Poile said he spoke with Carpenter personally over the weekend. All negotiations since Carpenter became a free agent June 30 had been conducted with Carpenter's agent, Bob Murray.

"This has been a very long and complicated thing, but I'm optimistic that progress has been made," Poile said last night. "I want to think we're close and narrowing the gap. But we're not there yet. Bob Murray and I will talk tomorrow and we'll talk every day until it's settled."

Poile said he was not trying to sidestep Murray by talking to Carpenter himself.

"With all due respect to his agent, it is important that he understand our position and the offer from the Washington Capitals, as well as from his agent," Poile said.

"I've been concerned for a long time about the possible disruption if he is not present at training camp. I'd like to bring the whole team together Sept. 17, as any other general manager would.

"After camp opens, the coach must worry about the composition of the team. If a player is missing, the coach has to take other steps. Someone else will have to play alongside Mike Gartner. It's disruptive."

The Capitals begin camp at Mount Vernon Tuesday and Murray said Carpenter would not be present unless an agreement was reached. Carpenter consistently has left comments on the situation to Murray, declining to discuss it himself.