Defenseman Calle Johansson was -- according to the hopes, dreams and desires of the Washington Capitals -- going to play a bigger role this season, with more time spent killing penalties and more production on offense.

A year ago, Johansson, Kevin Hatcher and Scott Stevens alternated on the point for most power plays. Stevens is history and Hatcher is a holdout.

"You can have only one quarterback on the power play and Calle is the one right now," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said. Johansson should be improved over a year ago, when he had eight goals and 31 assists, but the power play will need more than one quality defenseman.

Asked jokingly what he would do with a five-minute power play, Murray laughed and said: "We'll have to be creative."

There was no discernible activity in the contractual standoffs with Hatcher and unsigned free-agent goalie Don Beaupre.

Beaupre orginally was hoping for a three-year deal (two plus an option) that would pay him in the neighborhood of $400,000 a season. The Capitals have offered $275,000, $275,000 and $300,000.

No deal.

"I made a variety of proposals," Beaupre's agent, Ron Simon, said of the most recent discussions.

"David suggested that he can't get much for Donnie in a trade, so I said give us a termination contract {which would make Beaupre an unrestricted free agent after the season} at $250,000. But he wasn't interested," Simon said.

Simon said he then suggested a two-year deal (one year plus an option) for more than $250,000 but "a lot less than {Mike} Liut's $455,000."

Poile didn't bite. Simon said he then suggested a double-eagle contract, which essentially would mean Beaupre would be a free agent after this season, but the Capitals would retain his rights.

Again, the salary Simon suggested was a bit higher because the Capitals would be retaining the goalie's rights. When Poile didn't agree to that, Simon said, he told Poile to name his figure on a double eagle.

"He gave me $275,000, and that's not even close on a one-year deal," Simon said. "I've done everything I can. He doesn't seem to be interested in making a deal." Hunter Has Day Off

Dale Hunter did not practice yesterday. Murray said the center had personal business to take care of and had asked for the day off as far back as May. . . . Neil Sheehy, whose broken ankle was operated on Saturday, returned home to International Falls, Minn. He is expected to be out of action for three to four months.