Jeff Greenlaw hoped he knew when he would be picked in yesterday's National Hockey League entry draft at the Montreal Forum, but waiting in the stands with hundreds of other teenage hopefuls left him with an "ill feeling."

The anxiety left rather quickly when the Washington Capitals made Greenlaw their first pick and the 19th overall. "It's a fantastic feeling," he said.

The feeling among the Capitals management is that they got the player they wanted, given their draft position. Greenlaw, one of three Team Canada players chosen in the first round, is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound left wing from Aylmer, Ontario, who would appear suited to the Capitals' defensive style of play.

"He's the guy I wanted," said Jack Button, the Capitals' director of player personnel and recruitment. "Looking at his experience, his size, his character, I thought if we could get him, I would know that we had a potentially fine Washington Capitals type of player."

"When you're sitting there, not knowing what's going to happen, it's a relief to hear your name called," said Greenlaw, 18. "There's a lot of guys still up there. It's an ill feeling up there. But now it's a dream come true.

"I was drafted right where I was rated. No one knew where they were going except Joe Murphy the No. 1 pick overall by Detroit , so there were some anxious moments. But the team I wanted to get drafted by was Washington. It's an unreal feeling."

It came as no surprise that the woeful Red Wings picked Murphy, a Canadian who became the first U.S. college student to go first overall. The Red Wings, who had the worst record in the league this past season, had press kits prepared on Murphy, who was a freshman center and the fourth-leading scorer on Michigan State's NCAA championship team.

Jimmy Carson, a 6-0 center from Southfield, Mich., was the second pick overall, going to the Los Angeles Kings. Carson, who played last season with Verdun of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was the first of an unprecedented seven Americans who went in the first round.

The New Jersey Devils, who had the third pick, provided the first surprise of the draft, picking Neil Brady, a center from Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League who was rated as the eighth-best of the draft, although some scouts thought he had more potential than others rated above him.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, picking fourth, selected defenseman Zarley Zalapski, who played half a season with Team Canada. The Buffalo Sabres then took defenseman Shawn Anderson, also of Team Canada.

The Philadelphia Flyers, picking immediately after Washington, selected defenseman Kerry Huffman, who played last season with Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League.

Steve Scheifele, of Greenbelt, Md., who played last season in Stratford, Ontario, was picked by the Flyers in the sixth round.

With their second-round pick (40th overall), the Capitals picked another left wing, Steve Seftel (6-1, 183), who scored 11 goals with 16 assists in 42 games with Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League.

With two consecutive picks in the third round (the first coming from Quebec in the Peter Andersson trade), the Capitals selected two goalies -- the first two of the draft. Shawn Simpson (5-11, 180), who played last year at Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League, was the first, followed immediately by Jim Hrivnak (6-1, 180), who is from Montreal but will be a sophomore next fall at Merrimack College.

General Manager David Poile said the first two picks were an attempt to solve the team's problems at left wing, even though the solution may not appear this fall.

"We wanted to take the best player available," Poile said from Montreal. "We were hoping for a forward, specifically a left wing. Last year with Ivan Corriveau, this year with Greenlaw and Seftel, we've taken a big step toward plugging a hole that's been bothersome for a couple years."

Poile said the Capitals, with only four goalies under contract or on their reserve list, wanted Simpson and Hrivnak for the future. Simpson will probably spend two more years in junior hockey, and Hrivnak has three more seasons at Merrimack, where he is coached by former Capital Ron Anderson.

Greenlaw said the Capitals' style appealed to him.

"I love their style -- fast, big players, who can move the puck," Greenlaw said. "I consider myself a big, fast skater and I really like to hit, so it makes it easier."

Greenlaw has a decision to make this fall, since the idea of competing in the Olympics is still a consideration. But, although his first trip to Washington will be Tuesday, he says this is where he'd like to be.

Poile was not making any predictions about Greenlaw's immediate future. As the youngest player on Team Canada, Greenlaw had three goals and 16 assists in 57 games this past season. In the 1984-85 season, he had 21 goals and 29 assists in 33 games for St. Catharines in Junior B hockey.