VANCOUVER (CP) - Taylor Pyatt knows with a big NHL contract comes increased expectations.
The Vancouver Canucks rewarded Pyatt for his best NHL season with a two-year, US$3-million contract. Now the Thunder Bay, Ont., native has to make good on the promise he showed last season. "I think there's going to be a little bit more pressure coming into this season," Pyatt said Monday during a conference call. "I think I can improve. I want to try to be a little more consistent throughout the season."
Pyatt, 25, had a career-high 23 goals and 14 assists in 76 games for the Canucks last season. He played mostly on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin plus saw time on the power playoff. During the playoffs Pyatt had two goals and four assists in 12 games.
While the numbers were impressive on a team that struggled to score goals, Pyatt also went through long droughts.
He had an eight-game pointless streak early in the year. He had a 12-game stretch with no goals and just three assists and an 11-game period when he had just one goal.
"I'm up for the challenge," said Pyatt. "I was able to build some confidence last season. I want to build off that for next year."
Canucks GM Dave Nonis said Pyatt needs to be more consistent next season.
"There were nights when he was clearly a dominate player," said Nonis. "He used his size, he was physical and found the back of the net.
"But there were nights when he wasn't that player. His challenge is to be more consistent. He knows it. He knows that is part of becoming a more dominate player in our league and that's what we expect of him."
The Canucks also want Pyatt to play up to his six-foot-four, 220-pound size. One knock against him is he's a big player who isn't always large on the ice.
"That is something I want to try to be is a little more consistent and be physical," he said. I want to try to bring the puck to the net a little bit more."
Pyatt was picked eighth overall by the New York Islanders in the 1999 draft. He spent four seasons with the Buffalo Sabres before the Canucks acquired him last year for a fourth-round pick in this year's draft.
He attributed several factors for his career year.
"I was able to stay healthy for a majority of the season," he said. "That was something I kind of struggled with in the past.
"Playing on the power play, getting lots of ice time and playing the majority of the year with the Sedins was a big difference."
By agreeing to the contract Pyatt gave up a chance to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
"At this point of my career it just made more sense for me to stay in Vancouver," he said. "I think it's a team that has a chance to win and compete for the Stanley Cup."