Bobby Carpenter, 18, the Washington Capitals' No. 1 draft pick who spent almost four hours in a top-secret negotiating session with team management yesterday, left with a shy smile and a refusal to comment on the talk, which had been scheduled to last only an hour.

"We had a very fine talk. Now we're going back (to Peabody, Mass.) to discuss the situation carefully," said family attorney Jack Herlihy. "College is Bobby's No. 1 priority. . . but this is a major decision and we want to look at it carefully."

Carpenter, his father and Herlihy were driven to Capital Centre yesterday by limousine from National Airport for meetings with Capitals' owner Abe Pollin, General Manager Max McNab, counsel Peter O'Malley and Coach Gary Green.

Capital officials refused to divulge details of the talks, but McNab emerged with a smile from the lengthy sessions to say: "It's been a good evening -- or rather a long afternoon. I would say all points were reasonably covered and discussed. . . we expect to be hearing from them next week."

Carpenter was the star center with St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass., last season and the first American player to be picked so high in the NHL draft.

After Washington acquired the rights to him, Carpenter refused to immediately sign a contract, insisting that he might go to Providence College in Rhode Island, instead.

Classes begin on Sept. 1, the Capitals' training camp opens two weeks later and last night Carpenter said he still did not know where he will be next month.

The protracted meeting was interrupted several times. One break came when Pollin took the Carpenters on a brief Capital Centre tour and another several hours later when father and son accompanied Green to dinner. Later, Green and the young Carpenter ambled through Capital Centre offices, where the prospective player was introduced to employes.

Neither party would comment on why the meeting lasted longer than expected. The Carpenters missed a 5:30 flight back to Boston, and the elder Carpenter, a Boston police sergeant, was due at work at 6 p.m., an hour before he left the Landover arena.

McNab shrugged when questioned about the duration of the meeting. "This is a normal day in the life of a general manager," he said.