"It's a dream come true, a little surreal," Laughton said, adding he was "a little" surprised to be selected so high.
The Flyers bypassed some highly touted defensemen, including Olli Maatta (rated No. 8 by Central Scouting among North American prospects) and Matt Finn (No. 16). Maatta went to the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 22 pick - two selections after the Flyers chose Laughton.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said his scouts "had a group of players identified, and at the end we had a choice between a couple guys. I like the way our guys work. They do their job extensively, and they've had great success.
"The guy we took is the guy who had [our] higher rating."
Holmgren said he has seen Laughton a couple times and that he reminds him a little bit of Los Angeles' Mike Richards and New Jersey's Adam Henrique. "He's a good, solid, hard-nosed, two-way player," Holmgren said.
After a slow start, Laughton was rated No. 28 among North American prospects by Central Scouting.
Regarded as an excellent defensive player, Laughton was booed mercilessly by the Flyer-hating Pittsburgh crowd when he walked to the podium.
"I just kind of laughed at it; it added fuel to the fire," he said with a smile. "The rivalry is alive and well."
Laughton had a strong second half of the season.
"I started getting more opportunities and capitalized on my chances," he said. "I started to play top-six minutes . . . and started getting more confident."
Laughton said he tries to model his game after Richards, the former Flyer whose team just won the Stanley Cup, and Phoenix's Shane Doan.
"Those two guys are huge for me," he said.
Late in the first round, Holmgren huddled with David Poile, Nashville's general manager. Perhaps they were planting seeds for a deal down the road, but Holmgren said chances were slim that he would leave Pittsburgh Saturday having completed a trade.
Earlier in the day, the Flyers dealt backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus for three draft picks, including second- and fourth-rounders they will use on Saturday.
The deal gave the Flyers seven picks in this year's draft.
The draft was advertised as being deep with defensemen, and, sure enough, eight blueliners were chosen in the first 10 picks. Among the players selected in the top 10 were Derrick Pouliot (Pittsburgh, eighth overall) and Slater Koekkoek (Tampa Bay, 10th overall), defensemen who were on the Flyers' radar.
Pouliot, a 5-11, 186-pounder regarded as one of the best skaters in the draft, was selected with the pick the Penguins acquired from Carolina as part of the Jordan Staal trade on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Flyers have been inquiring about Anaheim's Bobby Ryan and Columbus' Rick Nash, a pair of gifted wingers who are on the trade market.
Columbus general manager Scott Howson has been fielding lots of inquiries from teams.
"But we're no closer to a deal than we were at the trade deadline," he said. "There are more legitimate possibilities out there right now."
Contact Sam Carchidi at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.