Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares were arguably the NHL's most dominant offensive forces this season, and now one of them is on the precipice of winning the league's most prestigious award.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Greg Wyshynski, the trio of finalists for the 2012-13 Hart Trophy was named on Friday:
Greg Wyshynski @wyshynski
Crosby, Ovechkin, Tavares for Hart2013-5-10 14:02:45
The Hart Trophy, named after Dr. David Hart, is awarded to the "player most valuable to his team" and is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.
Though fans of Western Conference teams might have some complaints—Crosby, Ovechkin and Tavares all represent Eastern Conference squads—it's hard to think of three more deserving candidates.
Crosby's candidacy might come down to just how much voters value actually being on the ice. The 25-year-old center missed the Penguins' last 12 games of the season after suffering a broken jaw, prematurely ending a historic scoring barrage that would have easily earned him the Hart Trophy.
Even so, Crosby's 56 points—captured in only 36 games played—were tied for third in the NHL and his 41 assists ranked second. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain was the driving force behind his team capturing the No. 1 seed in the East, and his presence has been instantly felt since coming back in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Crosby won his only Hart Trophy in 2006-07.
While Crosby sitting out the season's final 12 games might have cost him a second Hart Trophy, Ovechkin might have won his third in the season's second half. He scored 23 goals over the Washington Capitals' final 23 games en route to leading the NHL in goals scored. It was a recapturing of a dominance many thought had disappeared, and it will be interesting to see how heavily the voters weigh Ovechkin's first-half struggles.
As for Tavares? This is the 22-year-old New York Islanders star's first time being a Hart Trophy finalist—but it probably won't be his last. Tavares helped lead the Islanders to a surprising playoff appearance, finishing third in goals scored with 28, and is widely regarded as one of the best young players in hockey.
While Crosby and Ovechkin are likely the favorites, it's hard to quibble with any of these superstars taking home the hardware.
The winner of the award will be announced during the Stanley Cup Final.