Nonetheless, here are some quick thoughts about the assignments and how the events stack up with the current entries. The full assignments can be viewed here.
Men: The men's fields are just strong in general, but the first two events stand out to me. Skate America has multiple world champions and medalists; in addition to current silver medalist Denis Ten, there are Daisuke Takahashi, Brian Joubert, Evan Lysacek (assuming he's serious about his comeback), Takahiko Kozuka and Artur Gachinski, as well as US Champion Max Aaron. Skate Canada will also be tough, with assigned skaters including Patrick Chan, Yuzuru Hanyu, Jeremy Abbott, Michal Brezina and Nobunari Oda.
Ladies: Yuna Kim, Akiko Suzuki, Kaetlyn Osmond, Alena Leonova, Gracie Gold, Julia Lipnitskaia and Kiira Korpi will be at Skate Canada. Kim should win; the rest is anybody's guess.
Kim kicks off the previous Olympic season, also against a tough field
Dance: to be honest, dance fields have become thin across the board. I will go with the NHK Trophy, which Davis and White will predictably win, while Cappellini/Lanotte, Ilinykh/Katsalapov and the Shibutanis all jockey for position.
Remember, the best field on paper often means a dreadful event in practice, as the skaters stress themselves out and splat left, right and center... but for now, if I had to pick the one event to go to, I'd head out to Saint John.
Some intriguing matchups: Pechalat/Bourzat go against Bobrova/Soloviev at the Cup of China; this matchup of the top two European teams has important implications for the battle for Olympic bronze. And yes, I know Cappellini and Lanotte beat P/B at Worlds; but no, they are not one of the top two European teams. Veterans Plushenko and Joubert are matched against current star Javier Fernandez at the Rostelecom Cup. Yuzuru Hanyu and Patrick Chan face off at both their assignments (Skate Canada and the Trophée Eric Bompard).
Please let it turn out like 2012 CoC
A sad thought: this will likely be the final Grand Prix season for Carolina Kostner, Brian Joubert, Daisuke Takahashi, Evgeni Plushenko, Savchenko/Szolkowy, Virtue/Moir, Davis/White, Pechalat/Bourzat and Akiko Suzuki, to name a few. I'll miss so many of these skaters when they retire.