Mike Palmateer, the goaltender who two years ago promised to take the Washington Capitals into the NHL playoffs, has been conditionally traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for future considerations.

Capitals officials would neither confirm nor deny the trade but Palmateer said yesterday he was just waiting for details to be confirmed.

In Toronto, the deal was confirmed by Leafs owner Harold Ballard. "We are going to sign Mike Palmateer tomorrow (Thursday)," said Ballard.

Palmateer, who sat out most of last season with a knee injury, came to the Capitals from Toronto in June 1980 for defenseman Robert Picard, forward Tim Coulis and a second-round draft pick.

An eight-year NHL veteran, Palmateer was at least partially responsible for the 1980 trade. During that season, he wearied of the continual dissension in the Leafs' clubhouse and was at loggerheads with Ballard in negotiations over a new contract.

Ballard insisted there would be no repeat of the stormy contract negotiations two years ago. "This time we'll do it our way," he said. "There will be no high jinks from him this time around."

Leafs General Manager Gerry McNamara said Palmateer, 28, was being sought by the Leafs only "because of our need for strong goaltending."

Last season, Palmateer played only 11 games and had a 4.83 goals-against average. Prior to the 1981-82 season, Palmateer had compiled a respectable 3.21 goals-against average.

Early this summer when the Capitals acquired goalie Pat Riggin from Calgary, Palmateer said, "When they get another goalie you kind of know."

David Poile, the team's general manager, indicated last week he would consider trading Palmateer because Washington has a surplus of goalies. However, he said then, any move would be based upon Palmateer's ability to play this season.

Last year Palmateer crushed some bone in his right knee and in December underwent surgery to remove floating cartilage. He has not played a game since Nov. 28.

"The Leafs want me to play," Palmateer said, "but it all depends on how my knee holds up in their training camp."

However, Palmateer says he has been skating regularly and saw his doctor last week.

Poile, reached in Toronto last night, would not discuss details of the terms, but said: "Yes, the deal is going to fly."

In addition to the Palmateer trade, the Capitals will name defenseman Terry Murray as assistant coach. It is not known if Murray, 32, younger brother of Coach Bryan Murray, will continue to play.