He'll probably start in the AHL, but be one of the first callups. He's a Therrien type of guy. If a bottom 6 goes down, he'll be for sure the first call up.
If he had a little bit more skill he'd be a legit bottom 6er. He's got size and uses it to throw hits as often as possible. He gets back defensively and he will defend teammates even though he's not the best fighter.
He's almost certainly starting the year in the AHL. I think he'll have to go through waiver first, after training camp. Then, he'll be competing against Geoffrion, Palushaj, Dumont and maybe even Schultz, Natinen and Bournival to get that call-up. And that's in case of a bottom-6 injury, because IMO, any top-6 injuries will either be filled from within or Gallagher, Leblanc or Palushaj will get the go-ahead way before Blunden ever would.
So yeah... He didn't look terrible last year, but he was rather meh, and he was mostly signed as AHL depth. If indeed Blunden makes the Canadiens next season, it would mean two things: LOTS of injuries, and our young players are underperforming big time.
He looked terrible under Martin, but was an asset under Cunneyworth. I'm not sure what he'll end up being. The fact that the Habs risked losing him by not giving a qualifying offer might be a tell that they don't see him as part of the future.
Blunden (a big and physical winger) and Nokelainen (a right handed faceoff specialist) are worthy members of our support cast. They are fringe NHL players who can bring a valuable, tho limited, complementary input.
That being mentioned... imo Dumont > Blunden: I really like pests à la Subban, Lapierre and Marchand!
I'd prefer for him to stay up as the 13/14th forward and give guys like Leblanc and Gallagher big minutes in the AHL. The only problem with that now is the Bourque injury may force one of them up into the top 6 but I think that should be given to Palushaj for a final sink or swim test.
AHL skill level, but does have some NHL physical attributes though, mainly skating, size and hitting. Like some said, he might thrive better under Therrien than under Powderpuff Martin and Squeegee Cunney, more aggressive and physical system. Still, given now that we have Palushaj and Geoffrion (probably their last chance), Leblanc, Gallagher who could fit on a top 6 role, Blunden will not get past the 4th line, if called up. (and him being in the press box would be way better than having one of our kids, they need to play).