The award is called the Hart Memorial Trophy and was first given in 1924. Crosby won the Hart Trophy in 2007 and Ovechkin won in both 2008 and '09. Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin won the honor last year.
Tavares, 22, helped the Islanders make the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2007 as he finished third in the league with 28 goals. He totaled 47 points over 48 games.
Ovechkin, 27, led the NHL with 32 goals, including 23 in his final 23 games this past season. He and Crosby tied for third in NHL scoring with 56 points.
Crosby, 25, helped the Penguins to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. His 56-point total was amassed despite Crosby missing 12 games because of a broken jaw.
The 2013 Hart Trophy winner is to be announced during the Stanley Cup finals.