"He was here tonight?" was Ross' response to a question about what it's like knowing Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney was in the stands to watch him play in Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage at Hockey Canada's National Junior Team Evaluation Camp.
Ross, a defenseman the Coyotes took No. 30 in the 2007 Entry Draft, was the reason Maloney made the trip to the University of Ottawa Sports Complex.
Phoenix's top prospect, Kyle Turris, is here as well, but Turris is all but assured a spot on the Coyotes' roster as long as he has a decent training camp. Ross is a wild card, but since Maloney traded defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton at the draft last month, it has created an opening on the blue line that Ross may be ready to fill.
"We're still short a couple of defensemen and this is a good opportunity to see where he's at," Maloney told NHL.com. "He's been working out hard in Phoenix, but I talked to him last week and told him, 'Nick, this is a good measuring stick for you.' "
Ross was one of the three late invites to the camp. Ross, Eric O'Dell and Louie Caporusso got calls because Cody Goloubef, Thomas Hickey and Zach Boychuk are unable to participate due to injuries.
"It's definitely a dream to play for Team Canada, so any time you get a call like that it's really exciting," said Ross, who got the invitation Wednesday. "I was a little worried because I haven't skated that much, but as I get going it's getting better."
Prior to this camp, Ross last skated at the Coyotes’ prospect camp, which took place the week after the draft last month. He stayed in Phoenix to work out, but his gear was home in Lethbridge, Alberta.
"I had to have my parents Fed-Ex it to Ottawa," Ross said.
It was worth it, and the value of Ross' presence at this camp grew when Maloney walked through the door Sunday night.
"We're not sure about him yet," Maloney said. "He's still got some developing to do, but we'll see."