John Tavares, New York Islanders
Tavares is a first-time Hart finalist after helping the Islanders to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. In 48 games, Tavares tallied 47 points (28 goals, 19 assists). He finished third in the League with 28 goals and his 47 points led the Islanders. Tavares was not a liability in the defensive zone, and like his other nominees, is a player who can be seen on the ice for power play and penalty kill time. On the power play, Tavares had 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists). He is known for hard work in the corners, battling on the walls for pucks, and parking in front of the net as a big body looking for deflections. His leadership is clear on the ice, with Jack Capuano using him in all sorts of high impact situations. Tavares, like Ovechkin, is clearly a major reason the Islanders were able to reach the playoffs and have the season they did. Tavares scored 5 game winning goals, which was tied for third in the NHL this season. Along with Evgeni Nabokov, Tavares carried the Islanders for the bulk of the season. It is also evident what his leadership value is, when you look at the revitalization of Brad Boyes. It is safe to say that Tavares’ presence makes players around him better.