The winner will be named at the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, the league said in a statement.
Crosby, who earned the honor in the 2006-2007 season, finished fourth among all scorers with 15 goals and 41 assist with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a broken jaw. The 25-year-old center was also a finalist for the award in 2009-10.
Ovechkin, a 27-year-old right wing, led the NHL with 32 goals in 48 games, including 23 in his final 23 contests, to become the first three-time winner of the Richard Trophy as the NHL’s goal-scoring leader. He also finished third in the league with 56 total points, including an NHL-best 16 power-play goals with the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin won the Hart Trophy in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and was a finalist for the award in 2009-10.
Tavares, a 22-year-old center, ranked third in the League with 28 goals and led his team with 47 points in 48 games to help the New York Islanders to their first playoff berth since 2006-07.
The finalists were selected in voting by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the conclusion of the regular season.
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