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            Karlsson says he was ready to return to play for Sharks 'weeks ago'

            Defenseman was ruled out for season after thumb surgery prior to pause

            Erik Karlsson was expected to miss the remainder of the season with a broken thumb, but the San Jose Sharks defenseman said he might have been able to return sooner had the NHL season not been paused due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

            "If the season would have been on, I probably could have played a couple weeks ago if I had to," Karlsson told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. "That's doing great. That's been one of the things that I didn't really worry about it to begin with and I'm definitely not worried about it right now."

            Karlsson, who had 40 points (six goals, 34 assists) in 56 games this season, was ruled out for the remainder of the season after being injured in a 3-2 win at the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 14. He was expected to recover in time for training camp next season.

            Last week, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Karlsson and forward Tomas Hertl, who is out for the season with a knee injury, were doing well in their recoveries.

            "Erik is close to being all the way back and will be 100 percent for next season," Wilson told NBC Sports Bay Area. "Talked to [Tomas] yesterday. He's well ahead of schedule. Everything is going extremely well, and there should be no doubts with him being ready when next season starts too."

            Video: CGY@SJS: Karlsson nets one-timer from the circle

            The Sharks (29-36-5) were in last place in the Western Conference when the season was paused March 12.

            "I think something like this makes you realize that there's a lot of things out there that are more important even though hockey is one of the biggest parts of my life and something that I enjoy to do," Karlsson said. "… It puts a lot of things in perspective and you get to discover a lot of other things outside the hockey world which you otherwise might not have been able to. This is something we all have to go through."

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