Although suffering a tough 2-1 loss to Montreal in their season finale Sudnay night, the Washington Capitals received a lucrative consolation prize, the No. 3 pick in the May 31 amateur draft.
Washington, Cleveland, Vancouver, Chicago and Minnesota were so closely bunched in the overall standings that had the Capitals won on Sunday, they would have been reduced to the No. 7 selection in each round.
"Naturally, there was never any thought about putting anything except out best lineup on the ice," said general manager Max McNab. "But we got some lefthanded advice from some people that we ought to look at everybody from Springfield last week. In Montreal, the scouts were really kidding me. They said our success ahd really screwed up our draft choices.
"We feel that if you do the right thing, right things happen to you. Last night we were well aware of the consequences of winning.We gave it out best shot, still didn't beat Montreal and everything turned out for the best. You might call it a reward for hard work."
Detroit will draft first and is expected to choose Barry Beck, a big, belligerent defenseman for the New Westminster Bruins. Colorado is listed to draft second, but it owes Montreal so many "future considerations" for various deals that it would not be surprising if the Canadians exercised that one. Officially, though, Montreal doesn't own a Colorado No. 1 until 1980.
Washington will be next and McNab said, "We have to take the best player available at that time. Even if by taking the best, you overstock yourself at a position, the man he replaces should be of interest to somebody.
"We're capable right now of going into training camp and putting together two lines that are very competitive. I'm not putting the hammer on anyone, but the players all know when you miss the playoffs certain adjustments have to be made. There will be changes."
While center Guy Gharron, the team's high scorer, flew off to join Team Canada, the rest of the players awaited tonight's Fan Club appreciation dinner, set for the Officers' Club at Bolling Air Force Base.
One player who will have trouble chewing his filet mignon is center Rick Bragnalo, he had two wisdom teeth removed yesterday. The cast was removed from defenseman Rick Green's broken right wrist, then replaced with another because it was not completely mended. No problem is a foreseen, however.