Washington became the 11th stop in defenseman Terry Murray's pro hockey odyssey yesterday when the Capitals spent $2,500 to select him from Philadelphia in the National Hockey League waiver draft.

Murray, 31, played for the Baltimore Clippers in 1971 and later moved on to NHL roles in Oakland, Philadelphia and Detroit before returning to the Flyers from Maine a year ago and enjoying his best pro season.

Steady is the word to describe Murray, who recorded a plus-46 rating, sixth best in the NHL, while playing alongside Behn Wilson. However, his age was against him and the Flyers elected to leave him unprotected. Washington General Manager Max McNab, picking fifth, sweated briefly before taking the only man who interested him.

"The right side of our defense could be suspect if we're not careful," McNab said. "(Greg) Theberge is a rookie and untested, although he's looking pretty good, (Darren) Veitch is untested and (Timo) Blomquist is hurt. This is a pretty critical start for us and Murray can help."

McNab might have added that Paul MacKinnon, the hard-luck man of the last two seasons, has been struggling in exhibition games.

Murray, brother of Hershey Coach Bryan Murray, is a right-hand shot, if shot is the word. He has scored only one regular-season goal in his 228-game NHL career, on March 14 against the New York Islanders, although he added two in the playoffs. He was credited with 17 assists to rank third among Flyer defensemen.

A record 13 players changed teams as a result of the waiver draft, in which each team was permitted to protect two goalies and 18 skaters, plus all players with no more than one year of pro experience and goalies with no more than three.

The Montreal Canadiens lost the maximum three players, with Winnipeg taking defensemen Craig Levie and Serge Savard, who has retired, and Buffalo grabbing winger Yvon Lambert. The Canadiens in a closing transaction took Maryland-born winger Jeff Brubaker from Hartford without risking another player, in a controversial ruling by NHL President John Ziegler that produced considerable protest.

Besides Levie, Quebec winger John Wensink went to Colorado and Ranger winger Mike McDougal was taken by Hartford before Washington made its selection.

Later, Los Angeles drafted Hartford defenseman Al Sims and St. Louis defenseman Trevor Johansen, Vancouver grabbed Colorado winger Ron Delorme, St. Louis selected Edmonton goalie Gary Edwards, Hartford took U.S. Olympic center Rob McClanahan from Buffalo and Pittsburgh chose Buffalo defenseman John Bednarski.

After picking Murray, Washington dropped winger Dennis Ververgaert, an ex-Flyer, from its protected list. The Flyers took the $2,500 rather than Ververgaert.

In waiver action following the draft, the Capitals farmed center Glen Currie, defenseman Jay Johnston and goalies Rollie Boutin and Al Jensen to Hershey.

Twenty-seven players remain on the Capitals' roster, including defenseman Howard Walker, out a minimum of three weeks with a shoulder separation; Blomquist, out at least another month with a fractured jaw, and free-agent wingers Alain Daigle and Bob Sirois, who will be sent to Hershey if they accept minor-league contracts.

Defenseman Rick Green will play in Wednesday's opener at Buffalo with his left leg heavily taped . . . Although Murray fills an immediate need, the Capitals still are searching for an offensive-minded back-liner . . . ESPN will televise the Buffalo game Wednesday at 8 p.m. It is available on cable locally in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Woodbridge, Reston, Gaithersburg, Hyattsville, Annapolis, Gambrills, Pasadena, St. Charles, Frederick and Ellicott City.