They tend to mean that, somewhere along the line, something started going right for an NHL team. Maybe the pair is in place after a few years of toiling in the basement of the league. Perhaps a player out-performs even the highest of predicted ceilings. Or maybe a city managed to land a big fish in the free-agent market.
To make these rankings, two players don't necessarily need to be playing together on the same line—but it's cooler if they are. They just need to be consistently putting up good numbers while playing top-six minutes for their clubs.
If a pair can bring more than points to the board, that's extra points in my book.
As always, these rankings are subjective. That's the fun, right? Let me know what you think I got right and wrong in the comments below. For what it's worth I totally started breaking into cold sweats, trying to rank some of the best hockey players in the world. The margins here are paper-thin.
My pain, your gain. Let's roll.