When the Washington Capitals make their selection in the first round of the draft Wednesday morning, they will be following what General Manager David Poile calls "a very simple philosophy."

"We're just going to take the best available player, regardless of what position he plays," Poile said yesterday from Montreal. "We realize this is not a year for Bobby Carpenters or Scott Stevens, and contrary to what may have happened in the past, the player we choose will not be expected to play for the Capitals right away."

The Capitals will choose 14th of the 21 teams drafting and Poile said candidly that he did not believe the 14th player chosen in this year's draft "can play for the Capitals yet."

"I want to get the best possible guy. Choosing quality is the only way we're going to win the Stanley Cup.

"Let's say we need left wings, so that's what I draft," he said. "But by the time the guy comes up to play a year or two from now, left wing might be our strong area. That's why I'd rather look for the very best potential, wherever the player fits in."

Poile would not pinpoint his top choices. "There is always the chance that other deals among other teams will be made," he said, "and that could change things, too, making different players available, or not available to us." But he did name several players the Capitals are considering.

"Defensively, there are only about three that rated high," he said. "A kid named Gerald Diduck from Lethbridge (Ontario), a big (6 feet 2, 195 pounds), strong guy, and Bobby Dollas from Laval (Montreal) and Bruce Cassidy (from Ottawa). There is also a goaltender, Tom Barasso (from Boston), who is the top-rated goalie, and if he were available, we would consider taking him. But it is more likely we'll end up with a forward."

Two players who surely will be taken long before the Capitals choose are the draft's top names, centers Pat LaFontaine of Verdun, Quebec, and Brian Lawton from Providence, R.I., both U.S.-born.

"There are a number of centers (besides those)," Poile said. Alfie Turcotte of the Portland Winterhawks, Danny Quinn of Belleville, Ontario, and Adman Creighton, a 6-5, 200-pounder from Ottawa, are all high on Poile's list.

"We're organized and know who we're going after," Poile said. "Hopefully, our players will be there when it's our turn."

Defenseman Scott Stevens, the Capitals' first-round pick in the 1982 draft, was named to the NHL's all-rookie team yesterday.