Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh and Washington's Alex Ovechkin are once again finalists for the Hart Trophy, while John Tavares of the New York Islanders is also in the running for the NHL's Most Valuable Player.
Crosby captured the award in 2007 before Ovechkin was honored in 2008 and '09. Another win for Ovechkin would make the Russian star just the eighth player with as many as three MVPs, joining Wayne Gretzky (9), Gordie Howe (6), Eddie Shore (4), Bobby Clarke (3), Mario Lemieux (3), Howie Morenz (3) and Bobby Orr (3).
Tavares, meanwhile, would become just the second Islander to win the Hart, joining Brian Trottier in 1979. He helped the Islanders reach the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2007, finishing third in the league with 28 goals while totaling a team-best 47 points in 48 games.
Crosby, also a finalist in 2010, tied for third in the league with 56 points despite missing the final 12 games of the season because of a broken jaw. His 46 assists were second in the NHL and his points-per-game average of 1.56 led the league.
The 25-year-old native of Nova Scotia posted a career-best plus-26 rating and helped Pittsburgh to the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. He could become the second straight Penguin to win the award, following Evgeni Malkin last year.
Ovechkin, one of 11 players to win the Hart in consecutive years, led the NHL with 32 goals, scoring 23 in his final 23 games. He tied Crosby for third in the league with 56 points, was first in power-play goals with 16 and led the Capitals to their fifth Southeast Division title in the past six years. The 27-year-old Moscow native was also a finalist in 2010.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists.
The winner will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals.