New York Islanders center John Tavares has been named one of three finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the league announced Friday morning. Tavares joins Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin in the running for the award, given annually to the "player judged most valuable to his team."
Tavares emerged as a strong candidate after leading the Islanders to their first playoff appearance since 2007, as an eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The former first overall pick in the 2009 draft led the Isles with 47 points in 48 games during the regular season and finished third in the league with 28 goals.
The 22-year-old Tavares, in his fourth year for the Islanders, is a first-time finalist for the Hart. He has two goals and two assists through the first five game of the Islanders first-round match-up against the top seeded Penguins. Pittsburgh took a 3-2 series lead with a 4-0 blanking of the Isles in Game 5 Thursday night.