I would love so badly for him to win no. 8 next year, but I expect there will be a lot of voters who will be hesitant to grant him the Norris that will tie him for 1st all time with Orr. In an event, I do believe he is the greatest defensman of all time, ahead of even Orr.
From the 1997-98 season to today, the Norris has been awarded 13 times. I can only think of one time I can say for certain Lidstrom did not deserve it. That would be last season, when I feel he was still top-three. Only one, perhaps two other times do I feel that Lidstrom could be argued as not the best, being the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons when Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger won, and Pronger also took home the Hart.
So ultimately, IMHO, Lidstrom should have somewhere between 10-12 Norris wins. He has been outright cheated out of three victories (2009 Chara, 2004 Niedermayer, and 1998 Blake) and had that not occurred, he would likely be generally considered the greatest and most dominant defenseman of all-time. Even before 98, when he was the outright best, he was challenging for Norrises for six years. Lidstrom came into the league as one of the top 15-20 defensemen, as did Konstantinov. That event immediately changed the Wings from a mediocre team to a top team, in the same fashion as Yzerman's entrance allowed the Wings to emerge from the dungeon or Fedorov's entrance gave the Wings a second star player. The early 90s; with the emergence of Lidstrom, Konstantinov, Kozlov, and Osgood; as well as the acquisitions of Mike Vernon, Kris Draper, Brendan Shanahan, Igor Larionov, Slava Fetisov, and Larry Murphy; these are the things that are what defined the Wings' run in the 90s and allowed them to continue being successful. Through having a strong front office with Bowman, Holland, and Devellano, as well as strong scouting, they were able to select skilled players with low picks such as Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and others, as well as to make the "smart" move instead of the "big" move - and knowing when to make those moves. Players like Hasek, Schneider, Hull, Robitaille, Chelios, Whitney, Rafalski, Hossa, Conklin, Cleary, Eaves and more were strong acquisitions made via free agency or trade that helped and in some cases are still helping the Wings beyond their role.
The effect of Lidstrom leaving is unknown. He's a great defenseman, so that will hurt, but we'll get a skilled guy to help there. We have a leader in the locker room who can take on the mantle when Nick bows out. Is Z ready for full time? I think so. But I want to see Nick keep on as long as he's willing to play.