The Washington Capitals are negotiating with veteran defenseman Rob Zettler, and he could be with the team by the time training camp opens Tuesday.

General Manager George McPhee confirmed discussions with Zettler yesterday. Zettler played two games with Nashville last season and has spent parts of 11 seasons in the NHL.

Zettler, 31, would be signed to play primarily with the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine, and could be recalled to Washington should injuries occur.

McPhee said he also spoke with the representative for unrestricted free agent left wing Craig Berube last week and expects to hear back from him shortly. If Berube, who spent the last six seasons in Washington before being traded to Philadelphia in March, gets an offer from another team McPhee will decide quickly if the Caps can match it. The team has a similar arrangement with unrestricted free agent forward Joe Juneau, though the chances of signing either player seem relatively remote unless they are willing to play for a salary comparable to what they made last season.

Negotiations with restricted free agent forwards Richard Zednik and Jaroslav Svejkovsky continued through the weekend and could continue into the preseason. Team policy prohibits unsigned players from participating in training camp. "I expect we'll keep talking [today] and see where it goes," McPhee said.