Detroit hasn't settled who else will be around to back up starter Jimmy Howard, but the Red Wings felt MacDonald was worth keeping in the system. He went 5-5-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average in 15 games for Detroit last season. He also played in 20 games for Grand Rapids of the AHL.
"He gives us good depth, gives us good insurance," general manager Ken Holland said Monday.
Detroit signed Howard to a two-year, $4.5 million deal in February, but the rest of its goalie situation has been somewhat muddled. Chris Osgood, the team's No. 2 goalie last season, played in only 11 games -- none after undergoing sports hernia surgery in January.
MacDonald stepped in to back up Howard. He posted a .917 save percentage, including his second career shutout on March 17 at Columbus. MacDonald has a 3.19 career goals-against average in 87 games with Detroit, Boston, the New York Islanders and Toronto.
Holland said MacDonald's contract is a two-way deal for the first year. Financial terms were not released.
Holland said MacDonald's role in 2011-12 will likely be similar to what it was last season, when he split time between the minors and the Red Wings. Detroit is still in the market for a No. 2 goaltender, be it Osgood or somebody else. Holland said he planned to talk with the 38-year-old Osgood this week.
Osgood did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.