Former Washington Capital Dale Hunter is in town talking to Capitals management about his future, General Manager George McPhee said yesterday. Sources close to the team said that Hunter may retire and accept a position in the area of player development.

Hunter finished last season with the Colorado Avalanche after spending the past 12 seasons with Washington.

Hunter skated at the team's rookie camp yesterday but could not be reached to comment. His father, Dick Hunter, confirmed that Dale recently flew to Washington from his home town of Petrolia, Ont., to talk to Capitals management about working for the organization and said he expects him to retire.

Hunter, who will turn 39 July 31, spent 12 of his 19 NHL seasons in Washington, where he was team captain for the past five seasons before being traded to Colorado in March. Hunter had agreed to be traded and had referred to last season's playoffs as his "last shot" at winning a Stanley Cup.

Hunter played in 19 playoff games with the Avalanche, which lost in the Western Conference finals to the Dallas Stars. He registered 1 goal, 3 assists and 38 penalty minutes.

Hunter is second on the NHL's all-time penalty-minutes list with 3,565. Hunter has 323 goals, 697 assists and 1,020 points in 1,407 regular season games. He is the only player in NHL history to surpass 300 goals and 3,000 penalty minutes.

Capitals Note: McPhee said yesterday the team has re-signed left wing Jeff Toms to a one-year contract. The deal is structured so Toms, 25, will earn $420,000 while playing at the NHL level or $75,000 if he is playing in the minor leagues. The deal also carries a guaranteed compensation amount of $100,000.

Toms appeared in 21 games last season, registering one goal and five assists. An abdominal injury forced Toms to miss 30 games.