2016 Canadian Nationals preview (men): Chan wants his title back

He's back! Seven-time Canadian champion Patrick Chan is making his return to Canadians after taking last year off, and he is certainly back to reclaim his crown after Nam Nguyen won it last year. And much like at Japanese Nationals, where there was an obvious top two in Hanyu and Uno, Chan and Nguyen will be the ones fighting for gold, while everyone else looks to grab the bronze. But who will it be?

Chan comes in with after a very uneven comeback season. The short program has been his downfall - and his performances there have just declined with each competition. At Grand Prix Final last month, he scored a 70.61 in the short after tripling his quad toe and then subsequently having his triple lutz-triple toe invalidated because of the no-repeat rule in the short. It was the lowest short program score he's gotten in international competition since 2009.

But Chan's free skates during the Grand Prix have been absolutely spectacular. Whenever you score 190+ - twice - with just one quad in your free skate, you know you're doing something really right. Since the Grand Prix Final, he's added a second triple axel in his free skate (which is unusual considering his past struggles with that jump), so he's slowly but surely re-adding technical content back into his free skate. He's the solid favorite coming in, and two clean programs will put him heads and shoulders above the rest of the field, but can he get over his short program issues?

If he can't, the defending champ might just have a fighting chance at getting that second title in a row. Nguyen is technically even stronger than he was last year, with the addition of the quad toe in his arsenal this year. How close he gets to Chan will be a function of how cleanly he can skate. And he's the solid favorite for silver - so unless he implodes, you'd be foolish to not bet on his for that second Worlds berth.

When it comes to the bronze, there are a few skaters who have the potential to get on that podium. Three-time silver medalist Kevin Reynolds is back after withdrawing at least year's Canadians - the 12th place short program finish certainly didn't help. And he hasn't gotten back to his old self and was disappointing in his one domestic competition this season.

Liam Firus, the two-time and defending bronze medalist, is a fantastic skater but struggles often with the technical side of things. Elladj Balde, fourth for three years at Canadians, had what seemed to be a breakthrough competition at Nebelhorn to start the season, but ended with two 11th-place finishes on the Grand Prix. Roman Sadovsky, fourth last year, had a strong Junior Grand Prix until the Final, where basically everyone skated poorly. Add Nicolas Nadeau, Keegan Messing, and Bennet Toman to the list, and you got a potentially unpredictable fight for that podium.

Top 5 Predictions (Men)
GOLD Patrick Chan
SILVER Nam Nguyen
BRONZE Roman Sadovsky
4. Liam Firus
5. Elladj Balde