One quick glance at the lineup in the men's event at Skate Canada this week and you know immediately what the headline is - Patrick Chan takes on Yuzuru Hanyu at home. The last time these two met, Hanyu won Olympic gold and Chan "settled" for silver. But wait, there are 10 other competitors in this event, and there could definitely be a dark horse ready to spoil the fun for the two big guns.
Related: Skate Canada full schedule
Rocker Predictions: 2015 Skate Canada
GOLD Yuzuru Hanyu JPN - Starting off with a solid win at Autumn Classic a few weeks ago over Nguyen, Yuzuru Hanyu comes into this season looking strong early. And while the story is him against Chan, it's more likely going to be the case that he just walks away with the gold just considering how his jumps are looking right now. That said, Hanyu isn't immune to lapses in concentration, especially with his triple lutzes (for some reason?), and a couple of mistakes could change the whole picture this week in Lethbridge.
SILVER Nam Nguyen CAN - The Canadian champion in the absence of Chan last season, Nam Nguyen has shown that he's more than ready to compete with the best of the best this season. He's got a quad toe now to add to his repertoire, which already included a quad sal, and he's grown as a skater since last season, when he finished fifth at Worlds. Nguyen's consistency could give him the edge over Chan, who is still trying to find his jump rhythm. Canada is a two-horse race now.
BRONZE Patrick Chan CAN - I don't think he's quite there yet. Patrick Chan is making his comeback after taking last season off and competing a full competition for the first time (he skated a short program program at a domestic competition and then a free skate at Japan Open). We got a sense of where his training was - and he's definitely working to get the quad toe and the triple axel back. It's likely that we will probably see Chan at 75% this week, which is good enough for the podium but just not enough to contend for gold. But you never know, a few more weeks of training could've solidified those jumps - in which case, you can walk all over my prediction.
4. Adam Rippon USA - Mr. Quad Lutz is hoping to continue the upswing that he started at the end of last season. The key to his success this week is going to be landing those triple axels that he got back last season starting at Nationals. It will be tough for him to break through to the podium with the consistency of quads that the top three men have, but another competition, another chance for him to hit that quad lutz in competition.
5. Daisuke Murakami JPN - The 2014 NHK Trophy champ is probably the biggest wild card this week. He's got the goods to compete technically with the top guys, but he doesn't quite have the international panel on his side yet. To contend for the podium, Murakami is going to need to deliver a clean short program to keep his component marks remotely competitive with the likes of Hanyu, Chan, Nguyen, and Rippon. But two clean programs could sneak him in there.
6. Timothy Dolensky USA - It's the first season that Tim Dolensky has competed multiple times on the senior international circuit, and it's the first time he's making an appearance on the Grand Prix. He's an elegant skater without a reliable triple axel, which could make the difference this week for him to break top six in this field.
7. Michal Brezina CZE - Let's just say that Brezina has not had a fantastic start to his season. He's gone on a bit of an early season competition run - Lombardia, then Nebelhorn, then Finlandia, then Nice - and really, none of those competitions were really any good. Even when he got silver at Lombardia, it was at the heels of a bunch of mistakes. He is super talented, but it just looks like trending the wrong way.
8. Keegan Messing CAN - Competing on the Grand Prix for the first time, Messing, the former U.S. junior silver medalist, is representing Canada internationally this season. His pre-GP showings were solid, showcasing the explosive jumps that he's known for.
9. Alexander Petrov RUS - Sixth at Cup of Nice, Petrov skated a career-high short program and were right with some strong skaters until a subpar free skate dropped him to sixth. But he's shown that he's more than capable competing on the senior level.
10. Jin Seo Kim KOR - Twice ninth last season on the Grand Prix, Kim started his season off well with a win at Ice Star earlier this month.
11. June Hyoung Lee KOR - Tenth at Finlandia a few weeks ago, Lee is making his Grand Prix debut this week.
12. Sei Kawahara JPN - A last-minute invite to replace Peter Liebers, Kawahara was 11th at Japanese Juniors last year and will make his senior international debut here on a big stage. Our latest data point for him is a sub-170 third place showing at Chu-Shikoku-Kyushu Regionals. It'll be great experience for him, but I don't see him finishing any higher than tenth.