New York, NY
For leading his team to the Stanley Cup playoffs, New York Islanders center John Tavares has been picked as a finalist for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the "player judged to be the most valuable to his team."
It's the first time that the 22-year-old Tavares, a four-year NHL veteran, was named as Hart finalist. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin are also finalists for the Hart Trophy.
With Tavares' help, the Islanders returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. He finished third in the League with 28 goals and led the Islanders with 47 points. He averaged 20:46 of ice time per game but had just 18 penalty minutes.
The center also played all 48 games, the third time in his four seasons he has played every game. He has missed just three games in his NHL career, all in his second season.
If Tavares wins the Hart Trophy, he would become just the second Islander to win the award, joining Bryan Trottier, who won it in 1979. Trottier also finished second to Wayne Gretzky in 1982.
Crosby, who previously won the Hart in 2007, finished tied for third in the League with 56 points despite sitting out the final month of the regular season with a broken jaw.
Crosby still managed to hold the lead in the League scoring race until the final week of the season. His strong play helped the Penguins win the Atlantic Division title for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
A win by Crosby would give the Penguins back-to-back Hart winners as last year's trophy went to Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin.
Ovechkin topped the League with 16 power-play goals and tied for third in the League with 56 points while playing all 48 games.
Ovechkin was at his best during the Capitals' late push for a Southeast Division title. In his final 29 games he had 22 goals and 41 points, and helped the Capitals go 20-7-2 during that span.
If Ovechkin wins, he would become the eighth player with at least three Hart trophies, joining a group that includes Wayne Gretzky (nine), Gordie Howe (six), Eddie Shore (four), Bobby Clarke (three), Mario Lemieux (three), Howie Morenz (three) and Bobby Orr (three).
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