There is no question that Islanders coach Jack Capuano is biased in this situation.

But his words should carry some weight, since he has had a better seat than anyone as John Tavares spent this season carrying his team to its first playoff berth in six years – and in doing so, has put himself squarely in the middle of consideration for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

“There’s no question he’s an elite player in this league and he deserves it,” Capuano said yesterday after his team’s optional practice at the Wells Fargo Center in preparation for tonight’s game against the eliminated Flyers. “When you look around this league, there are a lot of great players and I think you have to put Johnny up there with all those guys.”

It was just hours before that Capuano and his team got aboard a plane in Raleigh, N.C., with smiles from ear to ear, having clinched a postseason position even while losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Hurricanes. By virtue of their loser’s point and the Capitals’ 5-3 win over the Jets, the Islanders (24-16-6) ended a playoff drought dating to 2007.

Throughout it all has been the 22-year-old Tavares, leading the team by more than just his numbers.

“Every night and every day, not just in the games but in practice, he brings it,” said Capuano, whose team will wrap up the season tomorrow night in Buffalo. “That’s why he’s an elite player, it’s the way that he handles himself on the ice and off the ice, as well.”

On the ice, Tavares’ 27 goals have him third in the league behind Alex Ovechkin (31) and Steven Stamkos (29). He is also 14th in points (46), helping his Islanders go 11-1-3 over the past 15 games and propelling them into sixth place in the conference, one point behind the fifth-place Maple Leafs, who lost to the Lightning last night, 5-2.

“I don’t look at it, so if it happens, it happens,” Tavares said, about winning the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals scored. “Ovechkin has had a great second half, Steve is doing the thing he has been doing for the last couple years. I’m just trying to work on my game.”