The Washington Capitals plucked left wing Dave Forbes from the Boston Bruins for $12,500 in today's inaugural NHL waiver draft.

Forbes, who will be 29 in November, had been with the Bruins for four seasons, collecting 53 goals in 284 games. He recently signed a new contract with Boston, covering this season and an option year.

Forbes has a reputation as a checker and the Capitals have been seeking more offense from their wings but general manager Max McNab said. "He scored 18 goals in this league one year. He can play in the NHL physically, offensively and defensively.

"He's been used as a defensive specialist, kiling penalties, but he's been boxed in with Boston. It's no disgrace with their wingers not to play on an offensive basis. We have some question marks about NHL ability in our total organization. We know Forbesy is an above-average NHL forward."

Forbes will always be remembered for the 1974 incident in which Minnestoa's Henry Boucha suffered a severe eye injury. After a battle between the two, Forbes rushed from the penalty box and struck Boucha with his stick. He drew a 10-game suspension from Clarence Campbell, then the NHL president, but was acquitted in a Minnesota court of charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

Forbes played four years of college hockey at American International. He becomes the sixth Montreal native on the Washington team along with Guy Charron. Hartland Monahan, Robert Picard, Bob Sirois and Bernie Wolfe.

There was little action in the draft, since each team was permitted to protect 18 skaters and two goaltenders, plus three two-year pros and all one-year pros and rookies. However, the protected list will gradually be reduced until by 1981 it will limited to the basic 19 men plus one-year pros.

The Detroit Red Wings were entitled to the first choice and paid $50,000 for Montreal's Paul Woods, a 22-year-old center who scored 20 goals last season for Nova Scotia of the American Hockey League.

After Colorado passed, the Capitals chose Forbes. The only other selection was made by the New York Rangers, who grabbed Toronto goalie Wayne Thomas. The 33-year-old Thomas had a 3.86 goals-against average in 33 games last season.

Today's editions of the French language newspaper Le Journal de Montreal carried a story by political writer Normand Girard that claimed the Capitals were controlled by the Rothman's cigarette people.

The Quebec Nordiques are owned by Carling O'Keefe Breweries, a subsidiary of Rothman's, and Girard claimed the alleged connection helped the Capitals settle the Picard dispute amicably as well as arrange tonight's exhibition game here.

Washington president Peter O'Malley said that "there is no ownership connection in the slightest. No corporate interests are involved in the Capitals' ownership."

The team is operated as a limited partnership, with Abe Pollin holding the majority interest.

"I found out about the story when the Nordiques' lawyer called me." O'Malley said. "He asked who owned the team and I said, 'Several people, including me.' He asked. 'You, personally?' and I figured, 'Oh, oh, I'm going to be sued.'"