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NHL New York Islanders

New York Islanders: Is John Tavares A Hart Trophy Candidate?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, the New York Islanders are actually in a position where they could clinch a playoff spot. If you want a prime reason of how they’ve managed to fare so well this season, look no further than John Tavares.

Coming off of his best season, many expected Tavares to reach superstar levels in 2013. It’s probably safe to say that that has been the case for the Isles no. 1 center so far this year.

Tavares came into 2013 after posting the best numbers of his career in 2011-2012. He finished the season with 81 points, including 31 goals and 50 assists. He also won over 50 percent of his draws at the dot. That’s obviously a fantastic season, regardless of what the state of your club looks like (and for the Isles, it wasn’t good).

But the Islanders find themselves just two points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference. It’s by no means a guarantee, but they’re in a position where it’s a possibility. Thank Tavares.

Tavares has carried that momentum from 2011-12 into this season, with 35 points in 33 games for the Islanders. He has 20 goals already, which is second in the league behind only Steven Stamkos. He’s leading what has quietly been one of the best top lines in hockey, with Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes also putting up terrific numbers next to him.

It wouldn’t be a stretch at all to say that Tavares is a Hart Trophy candidate. His numbers are right there with the best in the game, and he’s as big a key to his team’s success as you’ll find anywhere in the league. The award is all but sewn up by Sidney Crosby at this point, but don’t be surprised to see Tavares get some love when award season rolls around.