Now in his fourth NHL season, New York Islanders center John Tavares has entered the ranks of the elite players in the League.

Tavares on Friday joined Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin as finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the "player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team."

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. He still managed to hold the lead in the League scoring race until the final week of the season, and his 1.56 points per game led the League. He also had 15 goals and a career-best plus-26 rating. His strong play helped the Penguins win the Atlantic Division title for the first time since the 2007-08 season and earn the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

A win by Crosby would give the Penguins back-to-back Hart winners; last year's trophy went to Penguins center Evgeni Malkin.

Ovechkin, one of only 11 players to win the Hart in consecutive years (2008-09), already has won the Rocket Richard Trophy for the third time after leading the League with 32 goals, and like Crosby also is a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award. Ovechkin also 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).